THE BARTLETT SCHOOL OF ARCHITECT, UCL
RIBA Bronze Medal Nominee- Shortlisted
”The only way the cities in this region can make it is to forget that a line and a river exist here”
(former Ciudad Juarez Mayor Gustavo Elizondo)
The aim of the project is to reunite the two communities by providing a blood bank facility which is accessed by both sides. Due to the strict border controls and national planning regulations, the program has to be split into two separate buildings. However, the air above the site is not governed by these restrictions and is considered as a “no man's land” without any jurisdiction. This offers the potential to create a structure that cantilevers over the border, above the Rio Grande. Taking this notion and creating a cantilevered building achieves a visual link, reminiscent of the old bridge that used to connect the two neighbouring communities.
In June 2008 the bridge was taken down by the U.S. Border Patrol, thus breaking the link between these two communities. On the boundary of the state of Texas, a small bridge was created by two bordering communities, Candelaria (U.S.) and San Antonio el Bravo (Mexico). It became a symbol of trade, where the two small towns would exchange goods, such as fuel, postal services, medication, and education, thus transforming them into one bilateral community.
The proposed Blood Bank provokes a feeling of weightlessness being supported on a thin umbrella like foundations, only lightly touching the ground on each side of the border. At ground floor level, on each side, donors register and give samples of blood to see if they are eligible to donate. Approved donors then proceed to the cantilever level where they donate blood in specified blood group donation rooms. From there the blood is labeled, packaged and lowered, via a complex pulley system, down to the floating blood bank, below in “no man's land”. The bank accommodates laboratories for blood processing and a central independent cooling room for storage. This river barge then moves along the Rio Grande to supply other communities with its valuable life-saving commodity. V.H.
Victor Hadjikyriacou’s work probes the topics of international boundary lines and cross-border migration with sensitivity and intelligence. His proposal for a blood bank straddling the Mexico/US Texan border tests delicate socio-political matters and presents an elegant and considered architectural response to current issues of the frontier and national identity.
Sited on either side of the Rio Grande, the proposal is articulated as two separate facilities that hover above the borderline, reaching towards each other but without touching. His thorough investigation into cantilever technology allows him to resolve the structure as a broken bridge, a clear metaphor for the legal schism between the two communities.
A floating storage vessel inhabiting the ‘no man’s land’ of the river bed, overcomes the legal constraints and distribute the precious blood to Mexican and Americans alike, suggesting ‘racial mixing’ as a subversive strategy to blur the territorial demarcation. Addressing primal human needs, but deploying highly engineered solutions, the project is represented to encompass this dichotomy; a combination of orthogonal projection drawings that resemble ‘basic’ architectural blueprints combined with sophisticated rendered axonometric. This is a lyric proposal that raises more questions than it answers.
Julia Backhaus & Pedro Font Alba