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Competition: Unbuild the Wall

An open international ideas contest has been launched for a new ‘wall-less’ customs area in the separated cities of Nogales on the US-Mexico border (Deadline: 7 August)

Organised by Archstorming, the competition seeks proposals for a new ‘non-aggressive and socially inclusive border crossing’ to replace the current wall and checkpoint that separates the US and Mexico halves of the divided settlement.

The project follows US president Donald Trump’s controversial pledge to build a new 3,201km-long southern border wall, and aims to harness architecture to promote social cohesion, new public spaces and new forms of non-intrusive barriers.

Nogales border crossing

Nogales border crossing

Source: Image by Raymond Cunningham

Nogales border crossing

According to the brief: ‘The project focuses on the current border crossing that separates the cities of Nogales. The Archstorming team is calling for proposals to eliminate the existing buildings and the wall, building instead a space for coexistence that allows at the same time a respectful and controlled supervision of the migrants flow.

Archstorming encourages all participants to demonstrate that there are other ways of building borders. To this end, it is proposed to project a non-aggressive and socially inclusive border crossing, eliminating the current wall.’

Officially split into two cities, Nogales straddles the US-Mexico border with one half located in Arizona and the other in Sonora. The city is home to eight ports of entry into the US, featuring 12 passenger and eight commercial vehicle inspection lanes.

The contest seeks proposals to replace Nogales’ main border crossing with a migratory checkpoint space, which removes the current wall and delivers a meeting space for residents of both cities.

Nogales

Nogales

Source: Image by Pat Cobb

Nogales

Schemes may include a multipurpose space, officers, toilets and artistic outdoor interventions. Existing buildings may be integrated into proposals.

Judges include Mexican Nogales mayor David Cuauhtémoc Galindo, Reece Jones from the University of Hawaii, Cesar Aguirre of Los Angeles-based Aero Collective and Paola Aguirre from Borderless Studio in Chicago.

The overall winner, to be announced on 21 August, will receive €2,000 while a second place prize of €1,000 and third place prize of €500 will also be awarded. Ten honourable mentions will also be announced.

How to apply

Deadline

The deadline for applications is 7 August

Fee

Advanced registration 8 May to 7 June: €40
Regular registration 8 June to 7 July: €60
Late registration 9 July to 7 August: €80

Contact details

Visit the competition website for more information

Sarpi Border Checkpoint case study: Q&A with Jürgen Mayer H.

The principal of J.MAYER.H und Partner, Architekten discusses lessons learned designing a border crossing for Turkey and Georgia

Jürgen Mayer

Jürgen Mayer H.

Source: Image by Tom Wagner

Jürgen Mayer H. 

How did your project deliver an appropriate border crossing for Turkey and Georgia?

The Sarpi checkpoint area is a place that serves many purposes. It is a beach, it is a border crossing, and it is a commercial/business zone, offering meeting rooms with a view over the Black Sea. The Sarpi Checkpoint is as much a gathering place as it is a demarcation for security and customs purposes.

Which architectural, material, structural and other methods did you harness in your design?

The building is combination of steel and concrete structures with cantilevers. Additional to the services for border control, Sarpi checkpoint offers spaces for conferences, business meetings, and cultural events, turning the border from division into a space for common ground and unity.

Sarpi Border Checkpoint by J.MAYER.H und Partner, Architekten

Sarpi Border Checkpoint by J.MAYER.H und Partner, Architekten

Source: Image by Jesko Malkolm Johnsson Zahn

Sarpi Border Checkpoint by J.MAYER.H und Partner, Architekten

What advice would you have to participants on designing an alternative public space and border crossing for the US-Mexico border?

To see a border between two countries as a place where people meet instead of a separation line is the greatest benefit to celebrate ‘Nachbarschaft’ or ‘neighborliness’.

Sarpi Border Checkpoint by J.MAYER.H und Partner, Architekten

Sarpi Border Checkpoint by J.MAYER.H und Partner, Architekten

Source: Image by Jesko Malkolm Johnsson Zahn

Sarpi Border Checkpoint by J.MAYER.H und Partner, Architekten