Dezeen Magazine

Rael San Fratello slots pink seesaws into US-Mexico border wall

Architectural studio Rael San Fratello has installed three pink seesaws between the metal slats of the US-Mexico border wall so that children on either side can play together.

Ronald Rael, who runs Rael San Fratello with architect Virginia San Fratello, posted images and videos of the installation to Instagram yesterday.

The shots capture people playing on three bright pink seesaws slotted into gaps of the steel wall that runs between El Paso in Texas and Ciudad Juárez in Mexico.

"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," said Rael in the Instagram post.


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Ronald Rael (@rrael) on

He added that the event was "filled with joy, excitement, and togetherness at the borderwall" and described it as one of the "incredible experiences" of the duo's career.

Rael, an architecture professor at the University of California, Berkeley, and San Fratello, who is also an associate professor of design at San José State University, produced the installation with Taller Herrería, a workshop located in Ciudad Juárez.

The duo established Rael San Fratello as an architectural research studio with endeavours including the Emerging Objects project, which experiments with 3D printing.

It began investigating the US-Mexico border in 2000, and came up with the seesaw concept as the Teeter Totter Wall 10 years ago. These early designs and ideas are documented in Rael's book Borderwall as Architecture, which was published as a protest against the barrier.



View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Ronald Rael (@rrael) on

Rael San Fratello's seesaws installation at the US-Mexico border follows a string of controversies surrounding the Mexican border wall. A key commitment in Trump's 2016 presidential campaign was that a wall would be built between the two countries.

However in December 2018, the US senate refused to fund the $5.7 billion (£4.4 billion) cost of the structure, which triggered the country's longest government shutdown in history. It has since been agreed that Trump's administration will conduct repairs of the existing wall, rather than increasing its length.

The design of the barrier came under fire when a graphic of the proposed wall that the president revealed on Twitter prompted ridicule from designers. It was later revealed that all of the eight prototypes for the wall failed basic tests.

A number of architects and designers have also developed tongue-in-cheek wall alternatives, like a 1,954-mile-long dinner table and a flat-pack Ikea kit.

Earlier this year, architecture studio New World Design launched a crowdfunding campaign to build a golden picket fence around Trump's compound in Palm Beach, Florida, to highlight the absurdity of his plans for the Mexico border wall.

Top image is courtesy of Shutterstock.