Adding to the debate revolving around Donald J. Trump’s problematic campaign pledge to install a wall along the US-Mexico border, Reality Cues, an internet-based competition organizer, has announced a charrette aimed at designing a different kind of wall. Good Walls Make Good Neighbors, Mr. Trump asks entrants to simultaneously combine the candidate’s love for bad architecture with his penchant for fortifications. Instead of calling into question the politics, logic, morality, or economics of Trump’s proposal, Reality Cues invites contestants to instead design a wall separating Trump from the rest of the United States.
A brief posted to the Reality Cues website includes a collection of images depicting Trump’s private airplane, the Manhattan, Chicago, and Las Vegas locations of Trump Tower, and the Trump National Golf Course, and requires their use in submitted proposals. The brief cites the psychological power of calling for a divisive wall in an era of uncertainty; the competition asks entrants to translate their own angst as they manipulate Trump’s architectures. The brief’s provocation is a simple one: “redefine the architectural content (in the provided photographs) or insert architecture of your own to separate it from the rest of the country.”
The competition format follows those of earlier briefs deployed by the self-described “public experiment in communication and design” group which aimed to generate ideas around the notion of “Eco-Porn,” a nude photograph of Le Corbusier, and a set of stock internet images. The group, headed by an activist named Archistophanes, aims to “press architects to explore and question the techniques and conventions or tropes upon which (they) rely to communicate ideas concerning space, form, and use.” Regarding the intentions behind the competiton, Archistophanes told The Architect’s Newspaper, “The charrette proposal is meant to be a nod to Trump’s ‘eye for an eye,’ reactionary style of responding to criticism. In this vein, I felt it only natural that a bookend to his absurd proposal for The Wall is an equal and opposite wall proposal: between him and everyone else.”
“I’m more interested in the wall itself and how it represents division and isolationism,” he continued. “The charrette is political, no doubt, but how this plays out architecturally will be the revealing aspect of the exercise.”
A jury posted to the competition website includes a variety of design and urbanism journalists as well as several designers and architects. For more information on Good Walls Make Good Neighbors, Mr. Trump, see the Reality Cues website. Competition entries are due September 8, 2016, with winners announced a month later.