Texas Tech University

Texas Tech University at El Paso Sponsoring AULA's 'Porous Borders' Symposium

Amanda Bowman

March 21, 2018

This is the fourth symposium for Architecture and Urbanism in Las Américas.

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Texas Tech University at El Paso is sponsoring the Architecture and Urbanism in Las Américas' (AULA) symposium, “Porous Borders,” March 29-April 1. AULA is an architectural journal focusing on the Americas.

Robert González, founding editor of AULA and director and professor in the College of Architecture at Texas Tech University at El Paso, brought the journal with him when he came to the university. González is co-chair of the symposium, along with Kristine Stiphany, assistant professor in the College of Architecture at Texas Tech University in Lubbock and Rafael Longoria, a professor at the University of Houston's College of Architecture.

“The journal is an actual, physical journal my co-editor, Rafael Longoria, and I publish, but we sometimes will have a symposium around a topic,” González said. “Since I brought the journal with me to El Paso, and we're right here on the U.S.-Mexico border, we thought we needed to have a conference about the border. Given the very timely national discussion on a border wall and so many other projects that are out there where people are exploring ideas around the wall, we came up with this idea of ‘porous borders' as a symposium topic.”

While at the symposium, architects, scholars and artists will present proposals and works on one of the four following subjects:

  • Contestation/resistance: work that emphasizes the flows and fluxes that calcify borders and ongoing efforts to resist them
  • Dissolution: work associated with the creation of spatial territories that challenge, expand, diminish and otherwise dissolve geopolitical barriers
  • Synthesis: work interested in how borders provide a pedagogical starting point for the intersection of architecture, urbanism and Latin American cultural landscapes within studio pedagogy, with particular focus on traveling studios
  • Transgression/reciprocity: work that investigates the evolving relationship between social, technical and biophysical processes that reconfigure geopolitical boundaries to support emergent phenomena

“The symposium is a call for practicing architects, artists and scholars to rethink what it means to occupy a border, whether this is through disciplinary boundaries or physical boundaries,” Stiphany said. “By integrating architecture into the question of borders, we hope to promote scholarship and practice that concretely improve the environments that mediate these divisions.”

The symposium will feature keynote speakers, including famous Mexican architect Frida Escobedo, architects from the University of California at Berkeley Ronald Rael and Virginia San Fratello, and filmmaker Álvaro Rodríguez, who helped write and produce movies such as “Spy Kids,” “El Mariachi,” “Machete” and “From Dusk till Dawn.”

Students from the University of California at Berkeley, Princeton University, Columbia University and Harvard University will attend the symposium, as will international students from Mackenzie Presbyterian University in São Paulo, Brazil, and students from Autonomous University of the City of Juarez in Juarez, Mexico.

One of the many things González hopes this symposium stirs up is relevant conversation and discussions.

“Any time you bring in experts who are on the ground, who know a topic really well and who have been looking at it for quite some time, you really are sponsoring a heightened level of discussion, which I think is very important right now,” he said. “It needs to take place because the further you get from the border, the greater expertise people claim to know about what's happening on the border. I think what we have to do is trumpet our own voices and our own understanding.”

The symposium will conclude with a walking tour of downtown El Paso, with the attendees then crossing the international bridge into Juarez, Mexico, to visit historic sites and get a deeper appreciation for porous borders.

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