Camogli Health Centre

Year:2017

Duration:8 months

Cost: N/A

Country: Tristan Da Cunha

What did this project achieve?

Build a medical centre in the middle of the South Atlantic

British overseas territory Tristan da Cunha is located in the South Atlantic between South America, South Africa and Antarctica. The island is essentially a dormant volcano with no room for an airport so access is ordinarily via an eight day crossing on a supply ship that operates every few weeks from Cape Town, 1,500 miles to the north east. 

The new medical centre is made of prefabricated panels and cassettes for rooms, ceilings, trusses, walls and floors – all manufactured in Malmö , Sweden, the home of the flat-pack.

They were shipped on the MV Glory vessel to Poole in Dorset where Galliford Try’s plant, equipment and modular accommodation was loaded before the onward voyage to Tristan. 

Pre-fabricating the elements of the building for shipping to site for assembly reduced erection time and simplified logistics once on the island.  

Community relations is an important part of any successful construction project but never more so than when the workforce becomes so much a part of the resident community (and boosts its size by nearly 10% in this case).

The project’s community liaison officer immersed herself in island life, working with local school children on decorative designs for the walls of the new centre, arranging school tours of the building site and even pitching in to help out at the island’s crèche when it was short-staffed.

The MV Glory arrives in Tristan. This massive ship transported the pre-fabricated elements of the building from Poole in Dorset

The MV Glory arrives in Tristan. This massive ship transported the pre-fabricated elements of the building from Poole in Dorset

Difference the project has made

The new medical centre replaced an ageing facility built in 1971. It has space and facilities for a dentist and a doctor’s surgery with emergency operating facilities, sterile areas and an X-ray room.

Now when one of the 270 islanders needs treatment there is a good chance they won’t have to undertake a long and expensive sea or air journey. 

Two of the JCB diggers brought over for the build have been donated to the island’s community works team.

How the medical centre was constructed

Every single thing for the project had to be specially shipped in – from every screw to the construction machinery and the flat-pack ‘camp’ building for the team to live in – in all around 3,500m3 of cargo from the UK and Sweden.

The construction materials, once shipped, had to be unloaded at sea onto pontoons for transport to the harbour, an operation which took many days and a lot of frustration to complete because of the weather, which can be extremely windy.  

Despite working 11-hour days, six days a week, the construction team found time to explore the island – hiking up the mountain, mountain biking, fishing and socialising at the island’s pub, the Albatross Bar, which doubles up as the village hall.

Not to mention working out on the exercise equipment they had brought across from the UK.  

“​‌

Just getting to the island as a visitor is a logistical challenge. I carried out a site visit in 2015 which took around 30 hours flying time and 23 long days at sea. Getting every nut, bolt and washer to the island to build a state-of-the art healthcare facility is like doing a jigsaw with no lid and all the pieces facing the wrong way.

Mark Aimson

Project Manager

Fascinating facts

The construction team brought their own food supplies and their own chef so as not to deplete the islands resources and to make sure they could finish the project on time. 

Some of the team involved had already used this approach on another remote project – building the Antarctic research station Halley VI.

People who made it happen

  • Design: High Broughton Architects
  • Build: Galliford Try, Top Housing, Malmo

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