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Student Showcase Archive

Philip Buckingham

MA work

MA work

  • Geostationary Orbit: Section Through the Centre of the Earth at the Equator

    Geostationary Orbit: Section Through the Centre of the Earth at the Equator, 2016
    420 cm x 594 cm

  • Geostationary Orbit: Equatorial Elevation of Radio Wave Frequency Distribution and Satellite Launch

    Geostationary Orbit: Equatorial Elevation of Radio Wave Frequency Distribution and Satellite Launch, 2012
    420 cm x 594 cm

  • Mzansi in Space I

    Mzansi in Space I, 2016
    420 cm x 594 cm

Form Follows Signal: the Geopolitics of Orbital Sovereignty

Form Follows Signal interrogates the geopolitics of orbital sovereignty and proposes an architecture that exists from Geostationary orbit to the territory formed by wifi signal on the ground, in Tshwane South Africa.

Three modes of wifi deployment – geostationary satellite, medium earth orbit satellites and drones – are positioned within an organising system of radiowaves that has been composed by Facebook to give all Township residents free internet access, in Facebook’s ‘Project Isizwe’.

However, this access to the internet is on one condition. That you are not in debt. If your ratepayer account is in arrears you have no internet access.

This radiowave landscape of debt collides with another landscape of debt in Tshwane – that of land debt  formed during the Apartheid years where non-white communities were forcibly removed from valuable, fertile land in the centre of Pretoria to invaluable, infertile land in eight townships. These townships nowadays constitute an important but highly deprived labour force for the car manufacturing industry.

The design proposal of the Ga-Rankuwa Township Mega-Club hacks Facebook's WiFi and its redistribution, breaking the bond of wifi and debt, brings together the different townships and reframes their existing labour relations within the dominative automotive industry.

The Afrofuturist graphic Novel 'Mzansi in Space' transverses the project as a reimagined past and future. Mujava, a Mzansi House DJ, rediscovers her forgotten pre-Apartheid ancestry and this reignition of lost traditions politicises her music which in turn mobilises the youth against the increased violence of the WiFi Enforcement Officers. Mujava moves to form a Mzansi House SuperGroup to rearrange orbital sovereignty based upon ancient African cosmology and propel the Township residents (and the sub-saharan black diaspora as a whole) to the fore of global telecommunications.



  • MA Degree


    School of Architecture


    MA Architecture, 2016

  • Since studying at the RCA, my work has focused upon uncovering the ostensibly invisible infrastructure of global telecommunications that is increasingly composing urban life. In my thesis project – Form Follows Signal  the application was the wifi signal deployed to eight townships in Tshwane, South Africa, in Facebook's 'Project Isizwe', launched in 2013.

    The design proposal speculates on what an architecture of orbital sovereignty could be with the GaRankuwa MegaClub. Drawn within the organising system of radiowaves from the walls of the club on the ground to geostationary orbit at 35,000 km altitude.

  • Degrees

  • BSc Architecture, University of Bath, 2012
  • Experience

  • Architectural assistant, Grimshaw, London, 2012–13; Architectural assistant, Ron Arad Associates, London, 2011; Architectural assistant, Greenhill Jenner Architects, London, 2011; Architectural assistant, TP Bennett, London, 2010
  • Exhibitions

  • Drawings of Southwark Cathedral, Southwark Cathedral, London, 2015; Sketch, d3 Space, New York, 2013; 10x10 Drawing the City, Somerset House, London, 2012; RIBA: Bath Architecture, Building of Bath Collection, Bath, 2012; Royal Glasgow Institute of Fine Arts, Kelly Gallery, Glasgow, 2011; New View, Walcot Chapel Gallery, Bath, 2011
  • Publications

  • Society of Architectural Illustration, Drawing on Architecture, 2014; Matthew Barac, Pedagogy: University of Bath, UK, The Architectural Review, 2012