The Control Room 24/7/365

Year: 2015

Function: The research proposal seeks to provide a facility for detainees and to provide a space of rehabilitation, education and acclimatisation to new possibilities and a new way of life.

Site location: Zanzibar

Institution: FADA University of Johannesburg, South Africa

Brief description of the project: The 21st century can be described as the ‘century of movement or migration’, in the same way perhaps as Isaiah Berlin described the 20th century as the most ‘destructive in the history of mankind.’ (A Message to the 21st Century, Berlin, I: 1994) Movement – of people, goods, capital, and energy – has reached unimagined and epic proportions and yet, in almost inverse relation, restrictions on movement have never been greater. Capital flows freely around the world at the speed of light; the same cannot be s aid for people seeking a better life elsewhere. Immigration controls are now at their highest in the so-called ‘developed’ world, bringing with them a whole new language of fear, surveillance, and protectionism.

Zanzibar stands at the crossroads of a number of trade ‘factors’: from the historic slave to the present-day illegal trade in ivory and drugs, its geographic position lends it an importance that is inverse proportion to its size. One of the least talked-about aspects of illegal trade along the East African coast is the prevalence of ‘mules’, typically young women persuaded to carry drugs either in or on their person from the centers of drug-production to the cosmopolitan centers of consumption. Once caught, these women are often literally ‘in limbo,’ unable to return ‘home’, and yet lacking the legal status of immigrant or migrant which might allow them to forge a new life. The research proposal seeks to provide a facility for such detainees and to provide a space of rehabilitation, education and acclimatisation to new possibilities, new opportunities and a new way of life. The tension between ‘live’ and ‘inanimate’ goods (for example, people and drugs) is

also seen as a major architectural investigative possibility, and opens the door on new ways of combining passive and active material elements (power, light, water, etc.)

The neuroscientist, David Marr, states that ‘information must be understood at various distinct yet complementary levels of analysis. One level alone is not sufficient.’ And so describes my interest in the macro and micro-scales of abstraction which could be a valid way of exploring architecture, together with constant testing of these scales in order to develop a rigorous and informed approach to design. One of the most interesting aspects of dealing with island conditions has to do with sovereignty: to whom does a ‘ne w’ island belong? How deeply should a material entity be anchored in order to be claimed as territory belonging to one state or the other? These, and further questions around territory, migration and control are investigated at both the theoretical level and at the architectural translation level, resulting in a proposal that is at once spatial, formal, programmatic and material.

Nationality: South Africa


City and date of birth: Johannesburg South Africa 05 July 1984

Tutors: Lesley Lokko, Craig McClenaghan, Sumayya Vally FP L Jacobs.indd

Author: Lucille Jacobs