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Redesigning the World's Most Remote Human Settlement

Tristan da Cunha, in the middle of the southern Atlantic Ocean, is the world’s most remote human settlement. The nearest big city is Cape Town, South Africa, which is 1750 miles away. The 270 inhabitants of the island live a slow-paced life without much of the modern connectivity the rest of us are used to. Ships bring scientists and tourist to the island, but not very many of them.

Only trouble is, life there isn’t very sustainable. The island—battered by high winds, rough seas and occasional volcanic activity—grows its own potatoes and lobster, but otherwise relies heavily on outside resources. (The fishing company that operates the lobster processing plant provides diesel-powered generators, which are the sole supply of electrical power, and bottled gas is shipped in for cooking and heating.) The European Union has funded some electricity and water upgrades, but residents want to become more self-reliant. And so, in honor of the 200th anniversary (in 2016) of the island’s occupation by the British, which led to its permanent settlement, the local government has teamed up with the Royal Institute of British Architects to host a design competition with sustainability in mind.

Do you have any great ideas for sustainable architecture and energy sources for the island? The particular needs for the people of Tristan da Cunha are explained in an article at Smithsonian.  

(Image credit: michael clarke stuff)

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I think Easter Island deserves the title of most-remote human settlement, by just about every measure I can compare: the nearest town with a population of over 50 is Rikitea, on Mangareva (est. 1,230), which is 2,606 km (1,619 mi) away. The nearest continental point lies in central Chile, 3,512 kilometres (2,182 mi) away.

Tristan da Cunha is just 2,000 kilometres (1,243 mi) from Saint Helena (population 4,000+), and of course just 1,750 miles (2,800 km) away form Cape Town on the African continent.
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