Tristan da Cunha

Designing a More Sustainable Future for Tristan da Cunha's Community


In March 2015, RIBA Competitions launched a Design Ideas Competition on behalf of the Government of Tristan da Cunha.

This web gallery showcases images from the entries submitted to the first phase of the competition, images of the schemes developed by the shortlist during the design development phase, together with the winning set of design proposals.

Situated within the South Atlantic Ocean, Tristan da Cunha is the remotest inhabited Island in the world, in which the settlement of Edinburgh of the Seven Seas is home to a permanent community of around 270 Islanders. The Island lays 1,750 miles (7 to 10 days sailing) south-west of Cape Town. As in any farming/fishing community, life on Tristan is ruled largely by the weather. The Island is only accessible by sea on approximately 60 days per year due to the severity of the ocean swells and limitations of the harbour facility, with a limited passenger (just 12 berths, 8 times a year) and cargo service to Cape Town.

The Tristanians are keen to see how the built environment and energy efficiency of all homes and government buildings can be improved, to help the community become self-sustainable and ensure that Edinburgh of the Seven Seas is viable for future generations. The competition therefore sought innovative, cost-effective approaches for the re-design and consolidation of Tristan's government (community infrastructure) buildings; initiatives to significantly improve the living standards and performance of residential properties; together with improvements to the Island's agrarian systems to better support grazing and the year-round growth of fresh produce.

The first anonymous phase of the competition attracted 37 entries from architect-led design teams based in Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Germany, Italy, Japan, New Zealand, Russia, Spain, Switzerland, Turkey, United Kingdom and the United States of America.

The Judging Panel met to review the anonymous submissions in June 2015 when the Tristan da Cunha Administrator and Head of Government was in the UK. As well as HH Alex Mitham, the Panel also comprised Laura Benyohai (Tristan da Cunha & Pitcairn Desk Officer, Foreign and Commonwealth Office) Chris Carnegy (Tristan da Cunha, UK representative), Jim Kerr (Tristan da Cunha, UK adviser) and John Whiles (Jestico + Whiles, acting as the RIBA Architect Adviser). The Panel identified a long-list of 15 schemes for further consideration. These were presented by Alex Mitham to the Island Council for their final selection of the shortlist on his return to Tristan in July 2015. The Island Council was delighted by the interest shown in Tristan by design teams from around the globe, together with the myriad ideas contained within the phase one design proposals.

Anonymity was lifted following selection of the shortlist with the authors of schemes duly identified. The five short-listed teams were invited to develop their design ideas during the latter part of 2015 in response to general and scheme specific feedback arising from the phase one assessment.

Following the Island Council's review of the schemes developed during the second phase of the competition, the authors of two preferred schemes were invited to discuss their proposals and potential approach to realising the project with the Tristan da Cunha Administrator and the RIBA Architect Adviser in late June 2016. On the Administrator's return to Tristan and further due consideration by the Island Council, the team led by Brock Carmichael Architects were identified as the winners of the competition.

Tristan da Cunha
Edinburgh of the seven seas

  • Language  English
  • Currency  Pound Sterling
  • Timezone  GMT (UTC)
  • Population  c.288
Competition Contact

The competition is being administered by RIBA Competitions, to whom any enquiries relating to the general conditions of this competition should be addressed.

    ++44 (0) 113 203 1490

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