Scott Brownrigg shortlisted in RIBA’s international Tristan da Cunha competition

12.10.15

International design practice Scott Brownrigg has been shortlisted by RIBA Competitions and the Government of Tristan da Cunha for their entry into the prestigious competition seeking design ideas to create a more self-sustainable future for the Island community of Edinburgh of the Seven Seas.

Situated within the South Atlantic Ocean, Tristan da Cunha is the remotest inhabited island in the world; it lays 1,750 miles south-west of Cape Town and 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.

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

15 schemes were long-listed by a Panel of experts including HH Alex Mitham, the Tristan da Cunha Administrator and Head of Government. He then presented the long-listed schemes to the Island Council for their further consideration on his return to Tristan in mid-July. The Council was delighted by the interest shown in Tristan by design teams from around the globe, together with the myriad ideas contained within the design proposals. 

Scott Brownrigg’s concept design is one of five which have been shortlisted for further development. The scheme proposes the redevelopment of the government buildings reaching the end of their life, which will be phased in to create a new civic centre for the community of Tristan da Cunha. Referring to the history of fishing and the boatbuilding tradition of the island, the new architecture aims to strengthen the local building character and capture the sense of place through a series of exterior spaces that vary in intimacy and scale and provide shelter from the harsh weather.

The proposed new interventions and adjustments to the existing houses are conscious of local traditions, building typologies and environmental context. They embrace ideas of linearity drawn from observations of the current built environment. The restoration of the dwellings minimise energy losses by enhancing the building fabric. Extensions and greenhouse additions to the dwellings provide for a more self-sufficient lifestyle, along with the new renewable wind and maritime energy sources which are respectful to the surrounding landscape.

HH Alex Mitham said: “On behalf of the community of Tristan da Cunha I would like to thank everyone who has participated in the competition to date. We were staggered by the scope and variety of ideas, and also heartened to see so many people wishing to assist such a remote community. It has been very difficult to agree a shortlist as there were so many wonderful initiatives. However after careful consideration the Island has chosen five schemes, and I would like to congratulate these teams on their design proposals. I know that the community will be enthralled to see these take shape into fully formed plans over the next few months. It is very humbling to see so many teams from around the globe spend so much time and effort on their design proposals. Tristanians are very grateful for all the hard work involved and it has been an enlightening experience for the whole community.” 

John Whiles commented: “This has been a complex and intriguing competition made all the richer by the worldwide response proposing an extraordinary range of solutions. The reward for me has been the detailed involvement of the Islanders in the selection of the last five entrants who now have a great challenge ahead to refine their initial proposals into an effective and achievable set of principles.” 

Teams will be invited to present their developed design proposals to the Judging Panel when the Administrator next returns to the UK in early summer 2016.

The competition has also been featured in Architects' Journal and BD Online.