The US-Mexico border fence is one of the largest single construction projects in the country. Already measuring 600 miles long at a cost of $2.4 billion, the fence is as symbolic as it is utilitarian. Ronald Rael of Rael San Fratello Architects has taken those cues with a prodigious series of sustainable boarder fence proposals that not only create renewable energy and jobs but create a thriving economy and environment. His proposals are viable solutions to the environmental and social restraints imposed by the wall that has required multiple environmental act waivers to be built. Click through to see some of the groundbreaking proposals that re-envision how to spend the projected 49 billion dollars needed to complete the project.
As the nation plows an average of $4 million dollars into each mile of fence, the only benefit is the slowed pace illegal crossings. Rael imagines a border blockade that enhances the communities by providing clean energy and water as well as communications and local trade.
His visualizes a large solar electric array along the border (parts of which are the sunniest portions of the US) to provide communities with clean reliable energy. Rael also included plans for integrated solar-thermal vacuum tubes that collect thermal heat in large underground tanks to be used by schools, commercial buildings and factories. The fence could also collect storm water to ease urban infrastructure costs and store and supply clean water.
In perhaps his most ambitious and brilliant proposal, Rael takes the $33 million dollars allocated for the 6 mile fence near Mexicali and Calexico and replaces it with a water treatment plant. The elongated plant can clean one of the filthiest waterways in North America at the same cost as the fence. The plant will provide clean water to both sides, and it can use the methane from the biodigesters make electricity while still maintaining border security.
Rael’s concerns are not only environmental but social as well. Why not turn the famous fence at the Tijuana border into a bike and pedestrian path? His original idea of installing a burrito stand in the fence which allows for interaction and local commerce has bloomed into a variety of shared spaces. Rael would like to see a lending library in the middle of the fence — or a confessional.
These are just some of Rael’s ideas brought forward to improve the lives of residents and the environment while maintaining security. His groundbreaking proposals are sensitive and viable solutions to one of the thorniest issues that haunts the relationship between the US and Mexico, and the environment they share.