Mexico: Un-Wall the Border
RISD/UDEM Joint Architecture Studio
6 credits (ARCH-21ST-05)
Nov. 22-26: Monterrey, Mexico
Faculty: Hansy Better Barraza (RISD Architecture), in collaboration with Roberto Pasini, Universidad de Monterrey (UDEM), Mexico
The entire debate about the construction of ‘the wall’ between the United States of Mexico south and the United States of America north has generated numerous narratives, interpreted by artists, architects, and planners. The theme of the wall has been mostly used as a pretext for the enunciation of gratuitous, self-referential formulations, with no practical purpose other than that of benefitting the popularity of the authors.
Does ‘the wall’ offer any real opportunity for design to contribute to the improvement of living conditions of the ones whose life, for different reasons, happen to be suspended, poised, or fractured in between the two sides of the border?
Challenging the idea of a ‘border wall’, by and large an abstract line of no thickness whereby only operations such as ‘separating’, ‘crossing’, ‘moving along’, etc. can be performed, the studio will try to expand the two-dimensionality of this notion into a tri-dimensional space allowing for the performing of social and intersubjective activities. On one or more sites along the border, the studio will take up the design theme of a ‘Non-Crossing Area’, where people from both sides of the border go to stay (as opposed to crossing), socialize, and create/produce beyond barriers.
The studio work will be articulated in 3 major phases: ‘Research’, ‘Territorial/Urban Concepts’, ‘Architectural Project’. The first phase is devoted to the investigation of conceptual themes and practical analysis of design sites, the second phase prefigures an urban or territorial scenario, while the third phase precipitates into a physically defined architectural proposal.
In summary, the assignments throughout the semester will explore issues of identity, culture, agriculture, fabrication; and the analysis and design problems proposed will require alternative conceptualizations of spatial border conditions, territories of social interchange, and structures for the virtuous and fair production and creation.
The RISD/UDEM joint Architecture Studio Fall 2017 will be offered in collaboration between the Rhode Island School of Design and Universidad de Monterrey. UDEM students will travel to RISD at an early phase of the work in September to set up the common guidelines of the activities, while RISD students will travel to UDEM at a later phase in November to collectively present and review the final progresses. Travel to UDEM is optional.
Permission of Instructor required.