US-Mexico Border Wall Could Be Made From Shipping Containers

On a whim, a Miami architecture firm put together a design for one of the friendliest barriers you've ever seen.

When president-elect Donald Trump announced his bid to run for office back in June, 2015, one of the first things he said was that he wanted to build a wall between the United States and Mexico.

"I would build a great wall, and nobody builds walls better than me, believe me, and I'll build them very inexpensively," Trump said. "I will build a great, great wall on our southern border. And I will have Mexico pay for that wall."

A commercial construction firm, AllianceBernstein, estimated that such a wall, made of precast concrete and standing up to 50 feet tall, would cost between $15 billion and $25 billion. Not only is that expensive - Mexico has refused to pay for it - but it would be an ecological disaster as well as a monstrous eyesore.

The Miami Beach architecture firm, Domo Architecture + Design, has offered a different approach. Although they were not commissioned to draft a proposal, nor do they claim to have viewed the project through a political lens, the company's staff of eight people decided to come up with a conceptual rendering that upends the conventional notion of "border wall."

"We wanted to show through design that there are alternatives to building a wall, which is both a visual and physical barrier and culturally insensitive to either country," principal architect Robert Moehring told The Real Deal. "So the solution is more of an open landscape."

Their solution, inspired by nature and designed to blend into the countryside, is not a wall, but a sloping ditch that, at the bottom, abuts a steep cliff made from used or donated shipping containers - 750,000 in all.

"By removing the idea of a wall or a fence," they write in their proposal, "we remove the negative social, cultural and physical connotations associated with visual and physical barriers."

Excavating the land at an angle causes the border to disappear into the landscape. Unlike a towering concrete structure, the graded landscape also preserves the ability of those on either side to maintain visual contact.

And because the containers can be stacked in different configurations, the effect they produce can be altered. For example, at coastlines, instead of using the containers to create a cliff, they could be used to create piers that jut out over the beach.

The firm suggests replacing the 650 miles of wall that already exists along the 2,000-mile border with their open design. They did not provide a cost estimate, but think it could come in substantially less than the concrete wall, especially if the containers could be acquired cheaply or even for free.

"We're trying to mimic and reshape a natural formation of a border instead of a concrete wall," architect Francisco Llado said.

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