Find out more about the new Great House on Necker Island from Rob Aquadro our Project Manager who had the tough job of moving to the BVI’s to spearhead the two year build project.
The Great House was an incredibly unique project that is so difficult to compare to anything else I’ve worked on. From the day the original Great House burnt down we were on a fast track programme to having guests back in as soon as possible, so the speed of redesign, tendering, and construction were the highest priority.
On this basis, we set out to find the design team, contractor, and all other specialists within days after the fire and had carried this through to having concept designs on the table within two weeks.
We then moved from design stage to finding contractors and specialists to do the work and very soon started coming across the well-known Caribbean challenge of the isolated location as well as a limited resource pool to work with, but regardless of these challenges, we set ourselves incredibly ambitious time frames and budgets and kept our heads down to get it done.
Dealing with a project on such a fast track basis, together with the huge amount of emotion that surrounded the tragedy of the house burning down, left us no time to sit down and acknowledge how privileged we were to be rebuilding such an iconic home, and now that it’s over, we have been able to take a breath and realise how unique an experience this has been and how difficult it would be to replicate this on any other project.
The building was designed to be similar in shape and overall feel to the old house, but also adding a few new features that would make it so much better. This architecturally was a big challenge due to the many memories that the old house carried and there was a big risk that the end result wouldn’t match up to the expectations that the memories created.
The most rewarding aspect has been the many occasions that we’ve had Richard Branson and his family arrive onsite after some time away, and seeing their beaming smiles as they saw the rebuild of their own home progressing. Richard has been integral to the design process on this house and his positivity when arriving onsite and having his happiness openly shown to our site team has been fantastic.
We had a lot of fun through the design process though and everyone’s input has been invaluable in helping us deliver a project that worked for all, albeit without the 18 hole mini golf course on the roof.
We are all delighted with the results. I feel that we have met the design brief of rebuilding the “Old Great House” but adding a few interesting twists and managed to do all of this within a very tight time frame and budget. Relationships between everyone on the job have ended up intact and above all, we have a happy client, so we couldn’t have asked for any more.