Advancing the Value of Ethnography

Borders and Walls: What is the Agency of Architects in Geopolitical Conflicts?


Cite this article:

2019 EPIC Proceedings, ISSN 1559-8918,

PechaKucha Presentation

Boundaries and borders have generated lots of attention in the political realm of our country over the last years. The proposed Wall between the United States and Mexico has created different perspectives from architects and builders across the country. Following this debate, a question arises: What is the agency of architecture and architects in this issue?

This presentation focuses on a Borders Studio taught at the University of New Mexico School of Architecture, a borderland school that draws students from both sides of the border. The studio was created after seeing how polarized and diverse the opinions about the proposed wall were among architects and builders and in order to stimulate the critical thinking abilities of the students.

The studio involved a series of projects that tackled different scales. Each student found their own voice on the conflict during the semester and the studio created a platform for them to bring issues like immigration, labor and politics to the classroom and question the agency of architects in geopolitical conflicts.

The presentation reflects the students’ designs to create alternatives to the proposed wall focusing in the Chamizal Park in El Paso and Juarez.

Ane Gonzalez Lara is the co-founder of Idyll Studio and a professor with wide ranging interests in Ibero- and Latin-American contemporary design and urbanism. Her professional work with Idyll balances social and cultural concerns with extensive formal and material research. She has developed academic research initiatives as part of her studio teaching that have examined the United States-Mexican border and the Korean demilitarized zone, and she has hosted conferences on these topics including a roundtable at last years’ Venice Biennale. She received her Master and Bachelor of Architecture degrees from the Escuela Tenica Superior de Arquitectura in Navarra, Spain. Prior to working at Pratt she taught at the University of New Mexico and University of Houston.