Architecture should bring togetherness. This is what professors Ronald Rael and Virginia San Fratello of Rael San Fratello architecture studio believe. That’s why they installed pink seesaws at the US-Mexico border wall near El Paso, Texas, and Ciudad Juarez, Mexico. The duo has been exploring the infamous border wall architecture with a book and visionary projects rethinking the divisive infrastructure as a proactive meeting space.
(The installation reimagined the wall as) “a literal fulcrum for U.S. – Mexico relations and children and adults were connected in meaningful ways on both sides with the recognition that the actions that take place on one side have a direct consequence on the other side.” Says Ronald Rael.
“It was intended to be a very humble event,” Rael says. “We just wanted to test what it meant to bring people together along the border through design.” The project brought to life the conceptual drawings of their Teetertotter Wall, originally envisioned in 2009.
The physical barrier dividing the USA – United States of America and Mexico – officially, Estados Unidos Mexicanos – kind of creates a ‘third country’: the Divided States of America. These are the premises of Real San Fratello’s Borderwall as Architecture essay: an artistic and intellectual hand grenade of a book and a timely re-examination of the 650 miles US-Mexico border wall exploring the social, economic and environmental damages of the infrastructure.
At the same time, the publication envisions hyperbolic counterproposals and reimagines the wall as an attractor, engaging both sides in a common dialogue, while questioning its construction, cost, performance, and meaning. Some examples? The studio has developed proactive speculative designs including a divider made of solar energy panels that would enforce the border while productively capturing the fierce sunlight native to the region.
Other proposals include water collection and purification points adjacent to the wall to give respite to those of any nationality in proximity and a a binational and bilingual library that would foster reciprocal cultural understanding.
All images: courtesy of Real San Fratello.