The Rise Of Walltecture

The current political climate is challenging the concept of ‘borders’ and what they look like. The architecture and design communities are responding in different ways, reinventing the idea of a border wall and showing that such a wall could be as much open as it can be closed.

One of such projects is Open Border by Rotterdam-based design studio Atelier ARI. It takes shape in the form of a long wall, places across of the ice-skating trail on the Assiniboine River in Winnipeg, Canada. A red, almost four meter high barrier spans the river, creating a strong visible border, contrasting the white snowy landscape. Threatening at first glance, the wall is actually porous and open to pass through, as the name suggests. A double wall of red PVC strips makes it easy to cross the border, while providing a warmer space inside, in between the two walls.

According to the designers, Open Border responds to the current tensed political climate: “The completion of the project is at the same that the United States president confirms his plans for the construction of a wall along the Mexican border and choose to drastically close the borders for several Muslim countries.” The project is part of the 2017 Warming Huts Competition. Through an open competition, each year a number of combinations of architects and artists are selected to build a pavilion along the skating trail on the Assiniboine River. Open Border was realized in collaboration with Sputnik.

Another project, by Miami-based DOMO Architecture + Design, aims to beautify the US-Mexico border by replacing fencing and walls with landscaping. Their vision involves several design solutions that allow for minimal visual impact between countries and their landscapes. In a more balanced and positive approach, DOMO tries to remove some of the negative social, cultural, and physical connotations associated with visual and physical barriers. Their proposal is sustainable and aims to blend into nature while maintaining functionality.

Business Insider consulted with several architectural offices to gain their perspective on the question of border-walls, with special attention tot he US-Mexico border. Their response was that the project would be nearly impossible (or, at the very least, unrealistic and a drain on US resources) to realize. A German satirical news site responded with a spoof of an IKEA flat-pack furniture kit showing how to cheaply build Trump’s proposed Mexican border wall, named Börder Wåll.

A few moths ago, in a true architectural tradition, a design competition was launched calling on architects to design the wall proposed by then presidential candidate Trump. The competition received 152 entries from around the world. The winners were announced on inauguration day, January 20. It seems like the architecture and design community is not afraid to get involved in a political debate and jump and the bandwagon of current events. Previously we wrote about a design proposal for the wall by a Mexican architecture firm, and how designers were re-imagining a Trump-style White House.