All at Sea
Matt Breton-Honeyman, Pascale Julien & Amélie Savoie-Saumure @ McGill University, Peter Guo-Hua Fu School of Architecture [M.Arch I, Azrieli Global Studio, professor Howard Davies]
All at Sea is a fictional border control point between Israel and Jordan in the middle of the Dead Sea
As a reaction from our experience on the field, this project aims to reflect on the ‘apparatus’ of border crossing. The scheme is meant to exaggerate counter-productivity, and amplify the heavy and interruptive process of border control, inducing a feeling of disorientation or absurdity. The user is therefore forced into a long sequential process by a continuous flow of automated trains, following two trajectories that never physically connect but entangle into moments of tension.
What prompted the project?
This project was produced in the last month of our semester as part of the Azrieli Global Studio, where we had the opportunity to travel to Israel and Palestine, more particularly around the Dead Sea region. A few of us also went to Jordan at the end of the trip. This project is a direct response to our experience of the borders, a salient memory of the trip. It reflects our impressions of the heavy process of control in this complex and tense geopolitical context, but also the presence of the Dead Sea and its role in the dynamics of coexistence between two nations evolving in tension with each other. We started off with similar ambitions and our vision developed quite naturally.
What defined the various images through which you chose to reveal the project? Why limit it to three?
The idea of a triptych was a suggestion from Professor Howard Davies, which we thought was a strong way to develop our idea. Within the short timeframe, it forced us to express the idea in a concise and expressive manner, crafting the three images so as to be most eloquent.
The first image was the isometric view, which shows more objectively the complexity of the system, with an evocative scheme of tracks revolving around circular platforms.
Then, the sectional perspective more inward-looking, conveys the claustrophobic architecture of increased security checkpoints.
Finally, the perspective is a more distanced view of the whole apparatus, similar to the Dead Sea industries with their gigantic and colorful steel structures.
What is your take on colour? What role does this play within your image and affect our perception of the architecture?
Colour is a powerful language to convey emotions, tonality and atmosphere. In this case, the colour amplifies irony. The playful, whimsical tone intentionally contrasts the serious, and potentially dark, subject matter of this fictional border crossing.
Did you ever think of exploring the project through a diverse medium?
We discuss the option of a fly-through animation that could convey the subjective experience more directly and develop further the production of affect and atmosphere. We also discuss the creation of a storyboard, with a more anecdotal treatment of the subject.
What is your take on the contemporary state and use of ‘physical’ borders?
Borders are virtual entities, as political territories are human construct. Yet, those virtual points, are extremely tangible structures, increasing self-awareness and a feeling of heaviness. We aimed to portray our impression of this long and interruptive, almost dehumanizing process, where military forces and antagonism between nations are omnipresent, yet also trivialized by the tediousness of the procedure.
Where do you envision the future of borders?
This project was a reflection on a real situation, rather than a proposal for a redefinition of border control point of the future .Given how technology is evolving, the idea of border “stations” may become obsolete, adapting to ever-changing modes of transportation and communication. If identities move away from the ideals of a nation-state, the border as a concept risk changing dramatically.
What case studies did you look to?
We developed this project mainly from our own experience in Israel/Palestine/Jordan. We didn’t consider architectural precedents per se, but several architects and artists inspired us: Archigram, Cedric Price, Giorgio de Chirico, or Lebbeus Woods, all inevitable references when discussing the power of drawings and critical, speculative assessment of reality. Kafka’s nightmarish description of the complexity of bureaucracy was also important. Finally, we looked at amusement parks, such as the abandoned theme park Banksy’s Dismaland.