In times like this, inclusivity is crucial as ever, especially in the form of architectural design. In response to the controversial U.S.-Mexico border wall that a certain U.S. president is still adamant about constructing, Spanish platform Archstorming invited architects and students to envision a more inclusive alternative in the “Unbuild the Wall” ideas competition.

Eliminating the current U.S.-Mexico barrier in the city of Nogales, entrants had to create an ideal space for coexistence hat also has a respectful and controlled supervision of migrant flow. Submissions came in from 25 countries, and ranged from wide promenades, bridges, public squares, museums, residential buildings, and even a railroad.

The esteemed jury, which included the Mayor of Nogales and architect Guillermo Vázquez Consuegra (2016 Gold Medalist of Spanish Architecture), selected the three prize winners. Ten honorable mentions and a People's Choice were also announced.

1ST PLACE: The Tree Wall by Stefano Bastia, Eurind Caka, Giovanni Sana and Nicola Magri, from Bologna (Italy)​
1ST PLACE: The Tree Wall by Stefano Bastia, Eurind Caka, Giovanni Sana and Nicola Magri, from Bologna (Italy)​

1ST PLACE: The Tree Wall by Stefano Bastia, Eurind Caka, Giovanni Sana and Nicola Magri (Bologna, Italy)

Project excerpt: “Our idea aims to break down a physical barrier by creating a transitional space, a safe landing, a melting pot of stories. Local tree species will take the wall’s place, thus creating a plant invasion that, by wrapping the area, will project itself along the former crossing border. A system of vertical posts equipped with light sensors guarantees the monitoring of people flows. These two systems will generate a new forest able to merge nature and technology that, by cancelling the impact of the existing barrier, would for the regular monitoring of people flows on the territory. The core of the area is the square, conceived as a large circular space that recalls the geometry of Tohono O’odham’s craftsmanship. Two large regular-shaped buildings, host the functions of migratory checkpoints, meeting areas between citizens of both cities, showrooms and offices.”

2ND PLACE: All Men's Land by Ileana Savescu (Brasov, Romania)

Project excerpt: “The project proposes to activate the border, thus creating a device of dialogue and inclusion: a visa-less, bi-national, shared space.It is a buffer zone shaped as a below ground level park that amplifies the visibility between the two sides and where people can spend time and grow together towards a more tolerant and uniform society. The border is a vibrant park crossing Nogales and transitioning the two disjointed parts.It features a diversity of meeting spaces such as cafes, galleries, workshop studios, performance spaces, outdoor terraces, information centers on immigration, along with accessible rooftop gardens.”

3RD PLACE: dis - ARMATURE by Kristin Agnello and Corrado Agnello (Sidney, Canada)

Project excerpt: “This project proposes the demolition of all existing buildings and structures, creating a shared cultural space that is collaboratively owned by the American, Mexican, and Tohono O'odham Nations. The buildings necessary for border control are embedded into the structure of the site, while cultural facilities rise from the ground as landmarks that are visible well into the cities on both sides of the border. The buildings are designed to manipulate the public space so that visitors are guided gently into and through the site without the use of gates, walls, or turnstiles, all the while retaining direct sightlines to the shared cultural space.”