When Donald Trump proposed a massive border wall to stop immigration between the United States and Mexico, the biggest question on critics' minds was probably along the lines of "are you kidding me with this nativist, isolationist garbage?" or "you don't actually think Mexico is going to pay for this thing, do you?" It was almost certainly not "OK, but what's it gonna look like?"
Nevertheless, after the federal government posted a request for "the design and build of several prototype wall structures in the vicinity of the United States border with Mexico," at least one group of designers has begun exploring the challenge with soothing aesthetics first and foremost in mind.
"One of our goals was to not be like the Great Wall of China or the Berlin Wall or any of those typologies that represent division,” Architect Francisco Llado, of the Miami-based DOMO design firm, explained in a recent interview with Politico. “Our design is not about division but about unity of sense and sustainable functionality."
Because when people think "unity" they definitely think "huge wall."
DOMO envisions a structure made out of shipping containers modified to reflect their natural surroundings as they snake along the southern U.S. border. The wall would feature a host of eco-friendly add-ons, including solar paneling, water reclamation units, and—in populated urban areas—even the possibility of housing micro-apartments, Politico explained.
That's right—people could live inside the border wall. They just couldn't, y'know, get past it.
"This is a different way of addressing the border that is sustainable, functional and hopefully beneficial to society in any way possible,” Llado told Politico, “as well as any fauna, flora, landscaping, etc."
Nifty eco-design aside, this all seems to miss the point that Trump's proposed border wall, no matter how aesthetically pleasing, or environmentally sound, would still be an astronomically massive blot on the nation's conscience—a massive barrier separating a nation whose most recognizable immigrant welcomes "your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free" from the rest of the world where those masses originate.
Put another way: The infamous Checkpoint Charlie in Berlin wasn't awful because of bad design. It was awful because physically separating people from one another is fundamentally bad. Or, in even simpler terms: A pig in lipstick is still a pig.
Which isn't to say we're likely to see DOMO's design anytime soon. Llado is quick to point out to Politico that their idea is strictly an exercise in innovative architecture, and not a political statement. The firm is still reportedly considering whether to submit a formal proposal.