Square Kilometer Array – A weather station for Zanzibar
Function: Data collection laboratory
Site location: Changuu Island, Zanzibar
Institution: University of Johannesburg (Unit 3)
Brief description of the project:
Nature has a way of keeping us on our toes due to our constant inaccuracies in predicting what she will do next. Weather (in the sense of how we experience changes in climate) is both physical and scientific: changes in atmospheric pressure, barometric pressure, water, convection, currents, etc., all play a role in how we experience and measure wind, water, and landscape, etc. Additionally we experience weather through the senses such as hearing, tasting, feeling etc. This project looks at weather in the broadest sense of climate, landscape and meteorology, and proposes a centre that fuses our sensory and scientific responses to ‘weather’ in a single architectural proposition. The project comprises elements of ‘scapes’: land-, urban-, ecology- and sounds to provide a new interpretation of a weather station, one whose forms, materials and spatial conditions are derived directly from a number of experiments with sound, atmosphere, wind pressure and landscape.
Imagine capturing something that cannot be seen – an intangible presence. Although the project itself deals with weather and climate, my interest in meteorology actually stems from my interest in sound which is where i begin to explore this intangible presence.. In this document I showcase how those interests developed through a series of representational exercises into the architectural language of the project. The Unit Field Trip to Zanzibar provided a different opportunity to look into the physical and material qualities of the ‘unseen’, and I found myself drawn to the idea of weather. Johannesburg has a fairly stable climate with little variation in humidity and two major seasons, winter and summer. The transition zone between the seasons is very short and as a general rule, weather (in the sense of how we experience it on our skin and through our bodies), goes largely unnoticed.
Traditionally and historically, architecture has always viewed weather as the enemy, fighting to keep it out, or at bay. In the SKA: Weather Station, the opposite occurs – the building acts as its own data collector, sensing changes over differing scales and periods of time; through voids, cracks and scientific instruments. In certain places it also invites weather in, using changes in weather to provoke different material and formal reactions, from cracking apart to rapid decay.
The SKA: Weather Station is a new form of laboratory, a dialogue between two designers: myself and weather. One that works with rather than against weather, and one that allows architecture to tell us a different kind of ecological story.
Nationality: South African
City and date of birth: Johannesburg, 20th August 1990
Tutors: Prof. Lesley Lokko, Craig McClenaghan, Sumayya Vally
Author: Lance Ho Hip