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The Oval Partnership Architecture Ltd is the London studio of an international group of architects, urbanists, designers and researchers.

A member of theOctagonpartnership

©The Oval Partnership Architecture Ltd

ProjectTristan da Cunha
Size3,000 sqm new-built public works building & improvements on existing dwellings
BriefConcept design of sustainable environmental improvements for the remotest island community in the world
LocationTristan da Cunha
Winning Entry: Oval Partnership, in collaboration with Brock Carmichael Architects, Arup International Development and Dr. Gerda Speller has won this unique RIBA International Competition to devise sustainable environmental improvements for the remotest island community in the world.

Located in the South Atlantic Ocean, midway between Africa and South America, the island, which is a British Overseas Territory, has a population of around 270, all living in the island’s only settlement, Edinburgh of the Seven Seas. Accessible only by sea, the journey from Cape Town takes seven days and is only possible for part of the year. The volcanic island has a marine tropical climate. Much of the activity on the island is subsistence farming, with potatoes the staple crop. Fish and lobster are exported. The only employment on the island is at the lobster processing facility, which is owned by a South African company.

All Tristan families are farmers, owning their own stock and tending Potato Patches and settlement gardens around houses built by themselves or by their ancestors. All land is communally owned, and stock numbers are strictly controlled to both conserve pasture and to prevent better off families accumulating wealth. No 'outsiders' are allowed to buy land or settle on Tristan - despite many applications to join a society often referred to as 'Utopian'.

The competition brief called for designs for new buildings for the island’s eleven government departments, together with recommendations for improvements to existing dwelling houses and proposals to make the island self sufficient in energy. With wide-ranging technical input from Arup International Development and specialist advice on working with small tight-knit communities from environmental psychologist Dr. Gerda Speller, the Oval/BCA team prepared designs for a new complex of energy efficient administrative buildings together with a menu of practical and deliverable improvements to existing dwellings.

The new public buildings will be organised around community greenhouses and cloister gardens in a central location while the dispersed structures that used to house these facilities will be re-used as process buildings of varying kinds – eg. glass re-cycling.