The Chumbe Island Coral Park is an example of sustainable architecture that helps to preserve a pristine coral island for future generations. An uninhabited island, 12 kilometres southwest of Zanzibar Town in Zanzibar, Tanzania, Chumbe covers an area of approximately 20 hectares. The island is dominated by coral rag forest, with trees growing out of naked fossilized coral, and bordered on its western shore by a coral reef of exceptional biodiversity and beauty.
Seven eco-bandas (huts) and a visitors' centre have been carefully placed within the forest. The buildings respond to the island's unique natural environment through sensitive use of local building materials and innovative environment-friendly technology, which ensures sustainability of the island's ecosystem. Each building functions as a decentralized, self-sufficient unit, generating its own water and energy. Sewage is treated with composting and filter systems. The design - a free-spanning lattice-shell structure using locally available resources - was developed and built by local builders to achieve the best possible climatic and structural performance.
Since 1998 visitors have been welcomed to Chumbe Island, either to stay for the day and explore the island's natural beauties or to stay for a few days in the bandas. The local community of Zanzibar and other guests are invited to explore the reef sanctuary and the forest reserve on Chumbe Island to better understand nature's wonders. Former fishermen have been trained as park rangers to educate the local community on the benefits of respecting the reef sanctuary and forest reserve in an otherwise heavily overexploited area.
The Chumbe Island development consists of guest accommodation, a visitors' centre and staff accommodation. The guest accommodation comprises one single-storey and six double-storey bandas with, on their lower floor, a sitting area and three-outlet bathroom with basin, compost toilet and hot-water shower, and on their upper floor, a spacious sleeping space and luggage corner. The visitors' centre was created by enclosing the old lighthouse-keeper's house within a new domed roof. The centre accommodates a reception area, office, restaurant, kitchen, classroom and veranda on the lower floor and a spacious multi-use area on the upper floor. Three staff houses with bathroom facilities are located close to the lighthouse, and temporary buildings to accommodate park rangers and a workshop are located close to the jetty.