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Borderwall As Architecture

Borderwall as Architecture

Architect Ronald Rael sees the border wall in all its fragmentary presence and absence as both a horror and a wonder, a challenge for the imagination as we try to engage it in ways that affirm humanity.

“Isn’t it fascinating,” he says in a TED talk, “how the simple act of drawing a line on a map can transform the way we see and experience the world? And how those spaces in between lines, borders, become places, become places where language and food and music and people of different cultures rub up against each other in beautiful and sometimes violent and occasionally really ridiculous ways?”

The ridiculous is particularly important to Rael. Laugh at the wall, his work demands, and reject some of its power. Play volleyball over the wall. Build cul-de-sac baseball fields along the wall – let the players into the diamond, but not beyond the outfield – and think more about the space between walls rather than walls themselves. Think more about how walls help us live, or harm us in our living, rather than the walls themselves. Think more about the places and spaces where people live around and under and over the wall, rather than the steel bars and bricks themselves.

Rael’s cross-border see-saw game become a global smash, captured on a viral video, when he installed long see-saw flats directly through wall slats some months ago, and children from both sides of the border suddenly felt the universal urge: let’s play together.

Borderwall as Architecture is Rael’s book, it’s a TED talk, and it’s a nascent movement, a bit mocking, more than a bit horrified and fearful, and event a bit joyous. Highly recommended.

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