Nov 29, 2008

Pneu Border Proposal

“The true issue involves harnessing the political willpower to involve an educated community in the determination of its future and its economy.” ~ Marras, Amerigo. Hybrids, Fusions, and Architecture of the In-Between.

This proposal is a pneumatic border wall that primarily resides along the political border in the lower rio bravo/grande valley. The pneumatic wall creates a series of volumes which float along the rio, which can be programmed by the adjacent communities in a variety of ways which could benefit from either close bi-national contact or adjacency, or from being in an international zone or interstitial space. The wall itself is primarily two parallel tube sections which vary in section based upon programmatic needs or river morphology, with virtual-wall infrastructure in between which could potentially identify migrants as they cross the political border, for various purposes. The project aspires to encourage bi-national development, and cultivate cross-cultural contact and coordination in border towns and cities along and aside the rio grande/bravo, which most have largely turned their backs to. I am providing a system, a skeleton or carapice, to yes the Department of Homeland Security, but also to the communities in border regions along the river.

This investigation began with an interest in researching migrant death along the border, which identified two primary sites where this occurs- death by drowning along the rio grande/bravo, and hyperthermia in the frontier conditions of arizona and new mexico - too much water, or too little. Death however was just a by-product of a myriad of larger issues, which can be considered human ecology- the social, political, economic, and cultural environments in addition to a more environmental ecology. Aspiring to address some of these larger issues in addition to death along the border I began by looking at the river, as it forms nearly 65% of the nearly 2000 mile border, and the avulsions over time that have made what could be considered a "living border" - defining areas which have been both united states and mexico for some period of time, and what could be considered a general sort-of international riparian zone.

the project is anchored and accessed by a series of bridges which are built as the communities or governments desire to occupy the provided international spaces on the river [however discontinuous - divided by security gates and the virtual wall along the political border], and pneumatic pressure in conjunction with a to-be-designed vertebrae controls the shape of the inflatable where the bridges cannot to follow the river. in addition to a rather static condition along the river, the existing riparian zones - historically disputed lands or otherwise discarded spaces - can be developed in a variety of earthworks and landscape projects which can be shared bi-nationally with the intentional and controlled shift of the security border from the political border- moving the pneu border in a sort-of mimicry of the river avulsions.

The intermittent bridges serve as access and a track system to pull the pneu border over land, defining new bi-national or shared cultural riparian zones. The border wall can illuminate to serve these spaces at night and become a surface for projection, and the additional earthwork and landscapes could become anything from in-ground theatres and sports-fields to a decent migrant potters field. Optimistically when the wall is taken down {or deflated}, what is left in concrete are bridges and public spaces along the rivers edge.

The wall itself will be a series of individual pneumatic chambers which i'm working on designing now. The pressure cavity will be within the wall system, a double skin system that operates to modulate surface area by "poofiness," which will morph the form based upon necessary length and shape dictated by the river morphology or shifting across the riparian zones. This renders the interior spaces neutral in pneumatic pressure, however what floor and wall systems will need to expand and contract as the length and shape of the border wall shift. Various opacity, thicknesses, gradations, and unit modulation will be explored in this tectonic pursuit, which i'm excited about getting to once i've got the larger shifts represented etc... I hope the section of these tubes can vary in a big way over the length of the borderwall, and various formal typologies could be created to address the programs housed within - {i.e. "nave" section, "aviary" section, "office" section etc.} Aperture and penetration, rigidification etc. will be heavily considered and explored in this tectonic pursuit.

“Felix Guattari suggests that the basic question assailing us today is “how to produce, tap, enrich, and permanently reinvent (our subjectivity) in order to make it compatible with the Universe of changing values.” In this sense, ecology embraces the complexity of our social ecology, the ecology of the artificial environment that we produce in our being and becoming. It encompasses all ecologies that are at once natural and manmade.”

~Amerigo Marras adds to Felix Guattari in Hybrids, Fusions, and Architecture of the In-Between.


tere said...

great to have allies.

see us at

we could use your graphics.

motto: commerce is the alternative to a border fence.

Matthew Bitterman said...

thanks so much for your comment and link - it means more to me than you might guess. the project final review is on the 10th of december, afterwhich more images and representation will be posted of this and 10 or more similar creative border proposals. i dig your cause as well and would be excited to contribute in some way after the 10th.

best, matt