Rendering of a swinging concrete walls at AquíAquí in el paso
Swinging concrete segments give AquíAquí near-infinite flexibility (Courtesy Matter Design)

Matter Design envisions a configurable concrete gathering place at the El Paso border

AquíAquí, the latest collaboration between Cambridge’s Matter Design and multinational CEMEX Global R&D (a frequent partner in realizing the firm’s monumental and kinetic concrete designs) is a speculative community gathering space along the El Paso/Ciudad Juárez border intending to bridge both cities.

In AquíAquí (Here Here), Matter Design has envisioned an outdoor “community center” for Parque Público Federal El Chamizal, a 600-acre park split by the Rio Grande. Intended more as a case study, AquíAquí envisions dropping a reconfigurable concrete “wall” within spitting distance of the actual U.S.-Mexico divider.

Rather than a playful riff literally on the border wall (see Rael San Fratello’s seesaw or French artist JR’s giant fence climbing child), AquíAquí would drop a reconfigurable arrangement of concrete furniture on the El Paso side of the park capable of being rotated or slotted together into a wall when not in use. The 13-foot-tall, 75.5-foot-long project is made of six discreet sections with three of them able to rotate freely at their center.

Rather than prescribed uses, the installation is intended to be used for everything from family cookouts with the barbeque pits embedded in the sections, to enhancing seating, to projecting movies or art on the combined, solid wall configuration. Because of concrete’s thermal capacity, the project team claims that each segment will absorb heat during the day and cool occupants while releasing that heat at night to keep visitors warm.

AquíAquí was a collaborative effort between Matter Design, CEMEX, the art collective Public Displays of Affection, and the USMC Strategic Alliance, which coordinates organizations across Mexico, the U.S., and Canada to address shared challenges.

Yesterday, on January 25, Matter Design received an Honor Award from the Boston Society of Architects Design Awards in the Unbuilt category for AquíAquí.