Adrian Lahoud and Samuel Szwarcbord shared with us their honorable mention entry for the recent Geopolitical Borders Competition organized by Think Space and judged by Teddy Cruz. This project is about two lines, one existing and one proposed. The first line is invisible. It runs horizontally from east to west across the Mediterranean Sea. Like the contour lines on a weather forecast, it bends and twists according to the vast differentials of pressure between North and South. From the perspective of the African continent, Europe holds a minimal promise of opportunity that cannot be found at home. From the point of view of Europe, North Africa represents a local pool of labor power, ready to be dipped into at will, a steady reserve of energy (increasingly solar) and kilometers of unspoiled coast ready for development. Like any bad relationship, the asymmetry is secured through structural violence. This violence must be flexible enough to accommodate the contradictions and dynamics of both parties. Changing domestic imperatives, economic demands and legal requirements form plastic limits through which the stability of the line must be coordinated.
The second line is impossible. It loops around and circles the first in order to intensify its contradictions. It groups together a series of Mediterranean cities in order to form a single corridor of mobility that circles the sea. Passing through the center, the line divides every city in two. This leads to the first principle of contradiction: The line must cut in order to connect.
Eventually, the line begins to thicken and expand and a new transversal state is formed. The state is based on a principle of open citizenship and a guarantee of free passage. In each city a gridded sampling of the local urban fabric will be transplanted to the space formed between these limits. Like a reflection in a broken mirror, each city will see its fractured gaze returned. At certain moments, strategic crossings of the new belt city will become possible. This gives us our second principle of contradiction: The city plays host to its fantasmatic double / The city is hostage to its fantasmatic double.
Disparities between different halves of the same city will become more extreme; soon different languages will be spoken. Smugglers will try to move between them by crawling through illegal tunnels. Cheap goods, construction workers and capital will move in one direction, tourists and aid agencies will move in the other. The extreme wealth of the belt city will be a constant reminder of lack.
Like Beirut’s Green Line, or the walls in Berlin and the West Bank, the differentials of pressure build and build, until finally, the situation becomes intolerable.
Architect: Adrian Lahoud and Samuel Szwarcbord