lundi 8 mars 2010

# (UN)WALL /// Envisioning the border by Edwin Agudelo

A month ago, I wrote this article about the incredibly stupid project that Eric Owen Moss designed for this ridiculous competition organized by the NYTimes called A Fence With More Beauty, Fewer Barbs. I won't repeat how I feel about this crap (apparently I just did though), but the interesting thing is that Ronald Rael, architect and professor at Berkeley, contacted me and showed me the work he did in order to transform the US/Mexican border into an infrastructure that would at least provide jobs and energy out of this shameful wall.

However I have a fundamental issue with such projects and we had this interesting discussion with Ronald which is extremely important for architects. I do believe that softening the border wall -especially by establishing important infrastructures instead- is the best way to ratify the wall and therefore to make it fully permanent. Ronald on the contrary believe that we have to deal with a factual reality and that we have to do our best to make it the less worst as possible.
This debate is a real interesting problem which can definitely concerns some more domestic programs than this extreme one.

Anyway, Ronald happens to have chosen the US/Mexican border as his studio topic in fall 2008 at Berkeley and you can see his students' work on his blog by clicking here. One project particularly catch my attention and I then discovered that I was not the only one since it has been already published by Bryan Finoki on Subtopia.

This project was designed by Edwin Agudelo who graduated since then and is now working in Washington D.C. Envisioning the border is an attempt to explore the bypass of the border by subterranean ways. Tunnels represents in imaginaries the example by excellence of resisting to the wall since it romanticized the breakout. When you are surrounded by static materiality, you need to try to go through it without completely destroying its global configuration. Edwin thus proves that the wall can both conserve its expressive violence and be bypassed by other "architectural" apparatuses.
This project obviously recalls the incredible network of tunnels that links Gaza strip with Egypt and that Tzahal tries desperately to pierce from the surface. (to read more about tunnels read Bryan Finoki's article about Edwin's project)

Here is what Edwin writes about his project:

On June 28, 2007, agents from the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) executed a search warrant at 24 North Escalada Drive in Nogales, Arizona, at a home used to conceal the U.S. entrance to a recently constructed tunnel that stretched nearly 100 yards underground to a residence across the border in Mexico.
According to the National Drug Intelligence Center, on January 16, 2008 authorities discovered three short tunnels in Nogales connecting approximately 250 ft. of storm drain to create one continuous passage. Then on December 11, 2008 another clandestine tunnel was found near the Mexico border in Nogales. The tunnel's exit was located about one foot away from the International Boundary fence and was estimated to be about 12 by 19 inches wide.
For the US Border Patrol, it was the sixth tunnel found in the Tucson Sector during fiscal year 2009, which started on Oct. 1. Since the start of fiscal year 2003, 40 tunnels have been found.
The US-Mexico border is not usually thought of in its below grade condition, but the continual illicit digging of tunnels, for the smuggling of drugs and individuals, by increasingly well-organized and sophisticated groups, has been cause for the deployment of combative strategies ranging from “tunnel teams” (Border Patrol Tunnel Unit) to concrete plugs. While monitoring technologies such as motion sensors are effective in the case of sewage infrastructure, clandestine tunnels are most effectively filled with concrete.
Up until now, these plugs have been used to close off the tunnels where they cross the border and at main entrance and exit points, while the areas in between remain largely intact. Part of the reason they have not been filled completely has to do with access to areas where they cross into private property, while on the Mexico side, a lack of resources sometimes keeps any work from being done, thereby keeping portions of tunnels available for reuse through new diggings. Without proper coordination and resources, this will continue to pose a binational security breach whose exact magnitude and range remains unknown.
My interest was in locating, excavating and envisioning three underground border systems: infrastructure (sewage tunnels), natural systems (caves, and illicitly dug tunnels, which through a system of aggregation, might suggest a specific spatial dynamic capable of being programmed for public access. Much of the potential for me exists within what I feel is the futility of the border fence as a definitive and defensible measure. Part of this dynamic is already visible at the border fence in the form of breaches that occur on a daily basis, requiring US Border Patrol to continually reseal and repatch what is often done with simple and highly accessible tools. During our visit to the border in El Paso we were told by US Border Patrol of days where, along just a stretch of a few miles, one to two hundred individuals would penetrate or jump the fence in an attempt to sprint across the barren Texas desert to then slip into the nearby neighborhoods. If this sort of circus can exist above ground, what sort of worlds might we find if we could have a totalizing view of the underground?

Ronald's own words after reading this article are:
My position is that the aestheticization of the border wall is a horrible idea, and i believe you would agree. to a certain degree, the poeticization of the wall presents potentials, as many of the poetic acts of resistance we find on the actual border wall currently or Edwins project, for example.
My argument does not promote the wall's aestheticization or poeticization, but rather attempts to play the legislative hand that has been dealt at the border by attempting to increase security, while putting the 40,000 acres of fallow territory to work, creating solar energy, hot water, saving lives, etc

Envisionning the border by Edwin Agudelo
Ronald Rael's studio: Borderwall as architecture
UC Berkeley 2008

1 commentaire:

etc. a dit…

One has to accept the reality.
It does not mean to agree with it,
just to accept that it is there.

Then only one can act on it, be it by a creative act or an act of resistance, or again any other action that implies the acceptance of that reality.