Borders hold deep meaning, but they are just lines. Throughout history, the definition of territory has remained a fundamental determinant of power. Borders carry immense historical, political, and cultural implications; at the center of conflict, there is delineation; there is drawing lines. Borders are representations in plan view–lines on a map which are not necessarily tied to any physical thing. At most, they materialize in the common form of a wall which seldom traces the entire length of the border it delineates. One notable exception is the Korean Demilitarized Zone (DMZ).
If the traditional border is a line, then the DMZ is a surface. At four (4) kilometers-wide, it is a border territory: a border with its own border; a boundary space; a materialized, geopolitical line separating North and South Korea. It is one of the most heavily militarized and fortified borders in the world, and is representative to the nature of one of the most high-tensioned, ongoing, conflicts in recent history.
New questions of border continue to arise in contemporary geopolitics as nations grapple with the security of their borders and current global conflicts. So what can one of the longest-running border conflicts reveal about the nature and potential of borders in general?
arch out loud challenges designers to explore the possibility of creating an underground bath house within the Korean Demilitarized Zone which responds to the surrounding geopolitical conditions. New forms of non-military architecture could occupy this border zone and begin to ease the existing tension. The role tourism can play in opening relations across a border begs the question: How does architecture position itself in the middle of this condition of tension?
Awards:- Winner 5,000 USD, 5 Runner-up 1,000 USD each, 10 Honorable Mentions.