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Competition: Unbuild the Wall, US-Mexico


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

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.

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.

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 around £1,750 while a second place prize of £880 and third place prize of approximately £440 will also be awarded. Ten honourable mentions will also be announced.

The deadline for applications is 7 August.

How to apply

Visit the competition website for more information