Tristan da Cunha is the world’s most remote inhabited island, located in the South Atlantic. To mark its 200th anniversary, the Royal Institute of British Architects held an international competition to improve the sustainability and quality of life on the island. We were shortlisted with our entry ‘Operating Manual for Spaceship Tristan’. Our approach took a comprehensive view of the island’s environment, energy needs and living conditions introducing proposals that range from large scale renewable energy initiatives to modest interventions in the existing housing stock. Leading a diverse team of engineers and consultants, we also proposed the construction of a research village to test solutions and allow research programmes to be carried out on the island in the future.