Photo: US-Mexico Border turned into a Bike Path
An assistant professor of Architecture at the University of California, Berkeley has a few ideas on how to make the desolate spot known as the U.S.-Mexico border, into a more useful, more humane space.
700 miles worth of ugly fence separate the United States from México. The barrier is not only aesthetically unappealing, but has also proved to be expensive, detrimental to the environment, blatantly ineffective, and even deadly, as hundreds of people die every year trying to cross it.
“I have to accept the wall because it exists, but as a designer I see that something better is possible. Why not do something intelligent, something incredible?” Says Ron Rael, an assistant professor of Architecture at the University of California, Berkeley “I envision not just a ‘dumb wall,’ but a social infrastructure that connects and improves lives on both sides.”
With that in mind, Rael has re-imagined the border for the XXI century, complete with green infrastructures, social and public services and recreation facilities.
Rael’s new vision involves a system of “stations” along the wall, spaces where the border would become useful as a volleyball court, a confessional, a lending library, a water catching system or water cleansing plant, a solar farm and even food carts embedded to the wall, allowing individuals from both sides of the border to share meals, conduct business and be entertained, as opposed as the current offerings of the border: Segregation.
“There are exchanges of food and money through the wall already,” said Rael, who once saw how a thirsty border patrol agent bought a snow-cone from a vendor across an opening in the wall; he looks forward to a “post-border wall world.” It’s not about tearing down the border, but reinventing it as something useful, beautiful or inspiring. “If it’s [replaced by ] a swing or a teeter-totter or solar panels, it materially ceases to be a wall.”
“Border Wall as Infrastructure” a proposal by Rael and his partner, Virginia San Fratello, was a finalist in the 2010 Working Public Architecture 2.0 Competition organized by UCLA’s cityLAB. Watch renderings of possible border alternatives below, and tell us what you think!
The Border Re-Imagined as a Water Treatment Facility
Solar Energy Plant