Station #6

There are three mistakes people commonly make when thinking about the future.

The first is to assume that nothing will change, that everything will remain the same. The second is to assume that everything will change, that nothing will remain the same. The third, and most dangerous mistake is not to think about it at all“

Marshall Berman. All that is Solid Melts Into Air


Year : 2015

Function: Observation station – On the island of Zanzibar

Site location: Johannesburg, South Africa

Institution: Unit 3 – University of Johannesburg

Nationality : South Africa


City and date of birth: Johannesburg 1986

Tutors:Lesley Lokko, Craig McClenaghan & Sumayya Vally

Welcome to Station #6.

About 15km east of Stone Town on the island of Zanzibar, near the village of Tunguu, lies the rusting remains of an American Satellite Tracking Station. STATION # 6 was built in 1960s to track and communicate the first American manned space missions. It first functioned during the early ‘Project Mercury’ launches, when astronauts were launched into space in a parabolic arc from Florida in the USA, to the other side of Africa. The station also sits along the ‘earth track’ of most of the later orbital missions and thus was a vital part of the tracking and telemetry network that helped communicate with these spacecraft.

My Major Design Project is sited in the future, in 2050 and beyond. It supposes a new, mythical and futuristic dystopian landscape on which an architecture for observation has been designed and constructed. The project investigates different notions of time: past, present and future, as well as different speeds of time: fast, slow, immeasurable, the speed of light. The observation station is created today, made up of fragments of the past but built for the future. STATION # 6 allows researchers to continue their work of analyzing the skies above whilst at the same time surviving the ecological devastation of rising sea levels and a polluted landscape.

The project tells the story of the political unrest that has re-surfaced on the island, following the floods and devastation. Zanzibar is extremely volatile to climatic changes, such as storms and the high rise of sea levels. Zanzibar historian Torrance Royer tells a story of the beachwachers near the American satellite station. He writes: ‘the high tech equipment and the “reach for the stars” attitude intrigued many young Zanzibaris. They learned about the schedules and I remember friends would lie on the beach, looking up waiting for the American spaceship to pass overhead. One friend, who had just heard about this phenomenon, joined the beachwachers . . . only to be disappointed by the small slow moving star-like object that he witnessed.’

The drawings and models build are representations of the project through different ‘series’, from models, which look at landscape, weathering, decay and regeneration, in both a physical and environmental sense, to drawings that speculate on the nature of enclosure.

Images Description:


The station was forced to close just after the 1964 Zanzibar Revolution. The new revolutionary government claiming that the Telemetry towers would be used to direct missiles towards Zanzibar. The Station personnel were hurriedly evacuated while a US Navy Destroyer stood off Stone Town ensuring that all the American technicians and their families were allowed to leave unharmed.


An exploration into the future terrain of Zanzibar that reveals the old, the new and the future landscapes that exist in the year 2050. The exploration develops into a physical narrative that reveals the surfaces characteristics. The models represent the samples of taken from the landscape during the exploration.


The expedition reveals a changed environment. One that is foreign to the island. The images show a contaminated landscape. The landscape is in a state of regeneration.


The models derived from a process of exploring the programs that may form on the old remains of the satellite station. The models imitate the research into how the spaces would perhaps be constructed, using the old to construct the new.


This process explores the possibilities of the programs found and the new landscape clashing on site. The conflict reveals a series of on site constructs.


The confinements represent the tectonic feel of the spaces in which scientists and researches will use. The spaces are contained within the station.


The artifacts are all that is re-found from station 6

A diary, a piece of metal and a piece of fabric…


Author: Richard Meade