United North America / Holm Architecture Office

USA - Canada border, Jens Holm, Holm Architecture Office (HAO) in collaboration with Harold Gainer, Neurolapse.

“UNA: United North America

UNA is a modest proposal to address the creation of sustainable energy sources in North America by considering national borderlands as sites of generation rather than areas of contention.

Inspired by Buckminster Fuller’s Dymaxion map, the project was developed by Jens Holm in collaboration with Harold Gainer for Holm Architecture Office (HAO).


Over thousands of years we have slowly settled into nation-states. Established borders divide continents into countries with distinctive national identities and individual goals. As this sense of individuality evolves, the need for global collaboration and dialogue is bigger than ever.

Maybe the greatest legacy of Buckminster Fuller’s Dymaxion map is its ability to once again show the world as one contiguous landmass, reminding us that we are all connected. This map allows us to view the world in its whole, devoid of stigmas pertaining concepts of north and south, first and third, hot and cold. It reminds us that even though we each occupy a small part of the planet, we all participate in the greater whole.

This is the basis of our proposal.

The world is facing a series of issues that pertain to us all, issues that without decisive global initiatives will not be able to find all encompassing solutions.

Jens Holm, Holm Architecture Office (HAO) in collaboration with Harold Gainer, Neurolapse.

We consider solutions to these issues based not on individual countries but on united areas of potential. Even though our proposal focuses on North America, we believe the method with which the solution is achieved is applicable worldwide, between any two nations on any continent.

The three countries that share the North American landmass, even though they are closely connected, have developed distinctly different ways of life.

To the north, Canada and the United States have experienced increased prosperity but continue to be among the greatest contributors to global warming. They face a series of economic and labor force problems associated with outdated industries.

In the south, Mexico is suffering from a weak economy and high poverty levels that cause a large amount of people to seek out  better living conditions in the north.

The differences between north and south are growing, and the methods with which we are engaging the challenges we face are, at best, temporary and exclusionary.

By creating common goals, we believe a solution could be achieved that recognizes the pending challenges within all three countries. This solution includes the creation of millions of jobs in new industries, drastically minimizes CO2 emissions, and acknowledge the basic fact that unless a higher degree of equality is achieved throughout North America, people will continue to seek out the places that offer greater promise in search of better lives. The only solution to all these issues is one based on collaboration and inclusion.

We propose looking at the border areas between Mexico, the United States and Canada as shared zones of electrifying potential.

The border between Mexico and the United States runs through some of the sunniest land on the planet while the border between the United States and Canada runs through some of the windiest areas in North America. Both of these areas have some of the lowest population levels in North America, rendering vast areas of land available.

USA - Mexico border, Jens Holm, Holm Architecture Office (HAO) in collaboration with Harold Gainer, Neurolapse.

By implementing knowledge from existing solar power plants operating in the Mojave Desert and from wind farms operating globally, we are faced with a unique opportunity.

By setting aside a 20-mile zone along the borders of Mexico, the United States and Canada, sufficient land with immense energy potential would be available to generate enough clean electricity to completely offset the electricity needs of all three countries combined.

The beginning of a shared North American electricity network could be started in these two zones, funded by utilizing parts of the existing border budgets for all three countries. The network would be based on the implementation of existing technology, creating a cross-country dialogue based on shared goals and opportunities.

Jens Holm, Holm Architecture Office (HAO) in collaboration with Harold Gainer, Neurolapse.

This would mean millions of new jobs created –jobs that directly would influence the lives and living standards of citizens throughout North America, jobs within new and existing fields of green technology, jobs that would radically heighten the importance of the North American labor force in the future.

This would mean the complete elimination of the use of fossil fuels connected with electricity generation in North America, radically reducing the overall CO2 emission from all three countries locally and reducing the impact on global warming throughout the planet.

This would mean, over time, that enough cheap electricity would be created to reach the millions citizens in North America who currently live without basic amenities. New farmland can be irrigated, houses heated, water pumped and sports fields illuminated.

Welcome to UNA – United North America.

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Cite: Hank Jarz. "United North America / Holm Architecture Office" 20 Nov 2010. ArchDaily. Accessed . <https://www.archdaily.com/90224/united-north-america-holm-architecture-office> ISSN 0719-8884

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