UPDATE 01/20/2021: rael san fratello’s teeter totter wall has been named design of the year 2020. the installation which sees bright pink seesaws break the barrier between the US and mexico and allows people to interact over the border, was described by the judging panel as not only feeling symbolically important but also highlighting the possibility of things.
‘I think it’s become increasingly clear with the recent events in our country that we don’t need to build walls we need to build bridges,’ rael comments. ‘walls don’t stop people from entering our capitol, walls don’t stop viruses from moving. we have to think about how we can be connected and be together without hurting each other.’
this project was first published here on designboom on july 31st, 2019.
architect and anti-border wall campaigner ronald rael installed three pink seesaws on the US-mexico border to allow children on each side to play together. rael, who runs rael san fratello with architect virginia san fratello, posted images and videos of the public installation to instagram yesterday.
‘one of the most incredible experiences of my and @vasfsf’s career bringing to life the conceptual drawings of the teetertotter wall from 2009 in an event filled with joy, excitement, and togetherness at the borderwall,’ wrote rael on instagram. ‘the wall became a literal fulcrum for US-mexico relations and children and adults were connected in meaningful ways on both sides with the recognition that the actions that take place on one side have a direct consequence on the other side.’
images show children playing on bright pink seesaws slotted into gaps of the steel wall that runs between el paso in texas and ciudad juárez in mexico. the idea of a border play park was first unveiled by rael and fratello in 2009 when alternative concepts for the wall were being developed. they produced the installation with taller herrería, a workshop located in ciudad juárez.
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One of the most incredible experiences of my and @vasfsf’s career bringing to life the conceptual drawings of the Teetertotter Wall from 2009 in an event filled with joy, excitement, and togetherness at the borderwall. The wall became a literal fulcrum for U.S. – Mexico relations and children and adults were connected in meaningful ways on both sides with the recognition that the actions that take place on one side have a direct consequence on the other side. Amazing thanks to everyone who made this event possible like Omar Rios @colectivo.chopeke for collaborating with us, the guys at Taller Herrería in #CiudadJuarez for their fine craftsmanship, @anateresafernandez for encouragement and support, and everyone who showed up on both sides including the beautiful families from Colonia Anapra, and @kerrydoyle2010, @kateggreen , @ersela_kripa , @stphn_mllr , @wakawaffles, @chris_inabox and many others (you know who you are). #raelsanfratello #borderwallasarchitecture
throughout his 2016 presidential campaign, donald trump called for the construction of a ‘big beautiful wall’ on the US-mexico border. on friday, he was barred by the supreme court to tap into the defense department’s $2.5 billion counter-drug money to build more than 100 miles of the wall.
in 2017, the trump administration tested eight wall prototypes in otay mesa, san diego across from tijuana on the other side of the border. it was later revealed that all eight prototypes failed breach tests and were subsequently demolished. a number of architects and designers have since developed their own alternatives, including a 6-foot cheese wall and a bright pink barrier inspired by luis barragán.
designer: rael san fratello
kieron marchese I designboom
jan 20, 2021