Dec 20, 2008

Bridging Space

The curious room of heterotopias:

The trip to the US port of entry at the bridge of the Americas led us to a curious room. It is what I would like to call the “room of heterotopias”. The room preserved organic things that the border patrol would not allow into the country. Shelves containing stuffed birds, exotic insects, brooms, gaming trophies, fruits (that had touched the Mexican soil) and anything (even microscopic) that could be a potential source of disease and infection from the other side was held back in that space. Outside the room was a truck load of watermelons which was used to hide narcotics and had been confiscated by the alert eye of the patrol. Every day the port of entries confiscate things that are prohibited by the custom laws of either countries. There is no set way to dispose of these confiscated items. Some of the seized items are symbolic of the hypersensitivity that we display against the "other

The bridge:

The bridge of the Americas is a busy port of entry. Every day it receives scores of people who cross the border for work, leisure, education etc. The bridge, however is a sterile space, the only activity that takes place here is that of crossing. But bridges have the potential to serve as spaces of commerce and meeting . They can act as spaces where daily commuters (especially pedestrian) can stop and buy things before going back home, take a break to eat, or simply meet loved ones from across the border.

Also, the bridge is an interesting space because it behaves as no man’s land. It is not a line (that always creates the other) it is a space of the in-between. Things that cannot enter either of the two countries can find their space here.

The Design:

My design suggests the use of these bridges as a space for display and sale of things confiscated by the border patrols. It’s a place where seized apples can be eaten and residual watermelons be sold. It’s a market that changes its products everyday according to what is sequestered at the port of entries.

I propose it to be the space for the heterotopias that can sell books and show movies that are censored by either one or both the counties.

It is also a place where people can meet their loved ones who live across the border and not have to touch them through meshed fences.

The design creates space in-between the bridges that run from US to Mexico and visa versa. It stretches and suspends as meshed segments along constructed edges.

The edges act as buffer walls from the traffic yet are porous enough to give glimpses of the suspended meshed structure contained within it. The contained space can be populated by programs of sale and commerce as mentioned above. The thick edges also serve as spaces to store the things being sold. As every item sold here would have a story of exclusion in some ways the shelves would come to store stories of heterotopias.


The form took its cue from a previous border mapping exercises where I represented the stories of the wikimap as connectors in the virtual space - that at help personalize space. As De Certeau puts it. "They carry out the labor of transforming spaces into places and places into spaces. The model that represented this is shown along side where parts of Juarez and El Paso are connected with each other in a void space. In some ways the design for the bridge also seeks to create connectors in a void between two edges

The process of design made formal explorations into various ways in which the space could be moulded using fabrics that stretched across margins. The final space culminated as a series of platforms that flowed into each other creating smooth space geometry.

Conclusion : The creation of the border wall is an expensive yet futile attempt to curb problems of a much larger magnitude. It is a reaction to the symptoms and does not deal with the actual socio-economic- political reasons that are causing the exodus. The reaction reeks of hostility. My project intends to use the bridge as a space of release in this environment. It is a program that I believe can be replicated over various ports of entry into the country. Like many other projects in the studio, it seeks to puncture the antagonistic attitude that plague the space today. It attempts to make the space of the bridge a space for encounters and meeting rather than a sterile space for crossing over.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Having explicitly accepted the bridge as a heterotopia, I believe you even critique the very excercise of 'designing' the (humane) wall very well by insinuating that the excercise attempts to MAKE you design the Foucault's Garden within a city! that exists only so that the city continues buisness as usual but provides intervals of relief to whoever needs it (?) But the wall/city/boundaries are a given that your profession accepts and works around...when does the scope of design stop exactly? or can you work around most conditions of marginalization, migration, polarization, poverty etc through DESIGN?