The Teeter-Totter Wall, an installation that connected children of the United States of America and Mexico through a trio of seesaws slotted into the countries’ border wall, has been crowned as the overall winner of the Beazley Designs of the Year awards, which are organised by London’s Design Museum every year.
The seesaws were in place for a mere 40 minutes in July 2019 but they made a huge impact – video footage of people using them went viral.
The creators of the seesaws are Ronald Rael, a professor of architecture at the University of California, Berkeley, and Virginia San Fratello, an associate professor of design at San José State University.
They said they hoped the design would help people reassess the effectiveness of borders and encourage dialogue rather than division. San Fratello said, “I think it’s become increasingly clear with the recent events in our country that we don’t need to build walls we need to build bridges.”
“Walls don’t stop people from entering our Capitol,” Rael added. “Walls don’t stop viruses from moving. We have to think about how we can be connected and be together without hurting each other.”
The two creators, founders of the architecture studio Rael San Fratello, spent about a decade on the project and said that they wanted to throw light about the border issue in “a very frank way but using humour”.
Rael San Fratello collaborated with Colectivo Chopeke, an organization from Mexico to smuggle the seesaws to their locations. A team came from each side of the border to help slide the boards in between the tall, metal slats that divide El Paso in Texas from the Mexican city of Ciudad Juárez. Interestingly, this project did not receive official permission and the seesaws were to be assembled as quickly and covertly as possible in case border patrol were to intervene.
Tim Marlow, chief executive and director of the Design Museum, which awarded the installation the prize, said: “The Teeter-Totter Wall encouraged new ways of human connection. It remains an inventive and poignant reminder of how human beings can transcend the forces that seek to divide us.”
Wasn’t this just an amazing initiative to demonstrate that love transcends all walls and boundaries?