Connecting Continents

  • A mere 14.3 kilometers separates Africa and Europe at the narrowest point of the Strait of Gibraltar. This passage has been the subject of immense debate and speculation, with discussions on the creation of a physical connection between the two continents. The challenge may seem a trivial one… A bridge you cry! A tunnel! But bearing in mind the water is nearly one kilometer deep, it poses a huge engineering challenge in comparison to the Channel Tunnel that only had a depth of 70 meters to contend with.

    Project Heracles, launched by Domus Magazine in May 2011, asked readers for submissions on the topic, in the form of a postcard. This culminated in 200 of the most interesting ideas exhibited at The Gopher Hole Gallery a few ago,with editions created of each postcard, free for visitors to take. The significance of creating this link between two vastly different lands goes far beyond just joining them, the political implications are mammoth.

    “The bridge cannot be. The wall is there. The bridge will never be. That is the reality. As long as Africa is sinking like the Titanic, nobody will dare to build a bridge. We would have to prove that Europe will not sink as well if it takes in all of Africa’s drowning people.”

    Will both continents benefit from the connection? Will this mass uprooting of populations occur? It’s an extremely skeptical way of looking at the project, but the cultural and political relationship between Europe and Africa feels extremely weak, the recent protests and regime changes of many countries (dubbed the Arab Spring) shows a new way of thinking for these former dictatorships, but is this enough? It can be argued that the crossing could instead be a catalyst for improving relations between continents.

    There were many noteworthy contributions to Project Heracles, such as Bjarke Ingels’s proposal for a new €1,000 bill, as well as an entirely new currency, the Afro. Intended to act as a United African Currency, it proposes to simplify the trading across Eurafrica.

    How about being able to swim across the Strait? This novelty submission proposes a healthier crossing, though I’m unsure about the shipping traffic, perhaps a viaduct? All this concept lacks is the 14km merit badge for your speedo.

    A funicular railway seems a more realistic proposal, yet the basis of this type of travel is a one-in-one-out system. Could this be the solution for the prevention of mass migration? Imposing restrictions on the crossing may go against the whole project’s ideals, but perhaps a free-flow of traffic would be detrimental?

    This is one my favourite submissions, a constant array of hot air balloons floating in the sky. They require constant relaunching, refreshing the bond between continents each time they cross. The subject of joining continents has proved to be incredibly thought provoking, be it for or against the project. It invites the viewer to question their stance on globalization and raises many questions surrounding the world we live in today.