Inundating the Border, was recently included in the HYDROCity Exhibition organized and curated by the always interesting Infranet Lab. The exhibition was part of the HYDROCity International Symposium, featuring a great lineup of speakers.
F.A.D. was delighted to be invited to contribute work to this project. Inundating the Border is a design proposal for the international border between Ciudad Juarez and El Paso Texas:
“The US–Mexico border is a fluctuating, yet highly controlled political landscape. Over the past 150 years the border has changed from an invisible and unmapped line into a 2,500 mile frontier region characterized by unique economic and spatial conditions. The relatively recent militarization of the border has literally thickened it, creating a “no-man’s land” or third entity between twin border cities such as El Paso and Ciudad Juarez. These two cities are linked together by global economic forces, yet they are physically separated. In a 1962 agreement between the United States and Mexico, the Rio Grande border between Juarez and El Paso was moved and stabilized within a concrete channel. This shift left a void in the urban fabric between Juarez and El Paso that still exists today—an intricate terrain vague.”
“Inundating the Border utilizes the urban void created by historical shifts of the border as an opportunity to redesign it as a fluctuating, indeterminate space. The mechanistic control of the landscape is upended by releasing the Rio Grande (the border by treaty definition) from the concrete channel, thus allowing flows of the river to meander through the floodplain, constantly changing the precise location and thickness of the border. Through time (daily, seasonal, and mechanistic) the river shifts, migrates, floods and runs dry. These processes create landscapes of migration in which all elements—the ground, ecologies, and human occupation are transitional and constantly changing. What the border is one day is different from what it may be the next. The space becomes a series of momentary events in constant flux that will never repeat in the exact same way.”
“Water fluctuation through the space is achieved through the programmatic shift of existing upstream dams, reservoirs and diversion channels. The border void becomes expansive passive infrastructure for storm events, enabling run-off from the expanding twin cities of El Paso and Juarez to collect at the topological seam between them.”
“Human occupation of the border will vary with the processes of the river and the ecologies that emerge. Border patrols shift the ground they patrol depending upon the form of the border space. When the river runs dry, the edge disappears all-together and people can exit and enter the border space at will. The abstraction of the line is revealed through its disappearance. At these times international festivals occur on the border ‘island’, flooding the space with people from all over the world. The border is alive, improvised, irreverent, and jubilant.”
“The Rio Grande/Rio Bravo is currently a polluted and dying river. Strictly regulated flows and concrete channels engineered in the 1960s have eliminated much of the riparian habitat along its banks. Industries on both sides of the border dump heavy metals, and runoff from irrigated fields increases the alkalinity of the water.
If the Rio Grande is released from the concrete channel, it will once again penetrate into the ground, and create a diversity of habitats, such as forests, meadows and wetlands that will begin to reclaim the river through regenerative natural processes.”
The HYDROCITY exhibition is up through January and then travel to other cities. Can’t wait to see the other works that were included.