Inverted Landscape


Byron Marroquin and Sal Vargas
Woodbury University


Joshua G. Stein
Woodbury University


Fabio Zangoli, John Labib + Associates and Roel Schierbeek, Arup


This winning scheme is conceptually strong, novel, and innovative. The design is realized based on the steel material itself and could not be created using any other material. The primary structural frame is rational and organized, yet some of the smaller-scale details, for instance the Corten steel louvers, are a bit naïve, however the issues are easily resolved. 


The toxicity level of the Tijuana River Watershed has been a major international health hazard for both Mexico and the United States since the 1960’s with the major contributors of the pollution residing on both sides of the river. The rivers geographic location on the border between Mexico and the United States gives it a major political importance and splits the responsibility between the two nations. Both countries have invested millions in facilitating and reducing the toxicity of the Tijuana river watershed but this has led to insufficient breakthrough in its recovery. Due to the lack of financial investment and its geopolitical bureaucracy it is difficult to establish an international effort to improve the river.

The project seeks to transcend the border as a physical and political boundary to bring COLEF (El Colegio de La Frontera Norte) and the Trans-border Institute together which have been influential to the development and activism of river and regional improvements. The project rises above the international boarders and interweaves these major entities on a new landmass separate from their home countries creating a forum for international political debate and social interaction among both countries.

Each stalactite of the floating landmass contains facilities for each institution that submerges them onto the river as a visual reminder and gauge of their efforts in improving the quality of the border. The landmass above deals with the weaving of social, political, cultural, and artisan values of both countries. As the public moves through the facility they move across the known political border multiple times blurring the physical location of the border. At the center of the design is the Bi-National Auditorium where international debate and dialogs can be had by both the public and government of each country. The physical and political boarder of Mexico and the United States has been an unsteady one over the years but by providing a forum where cultures and ideas can be exchanged the development of the boarder can be radically transformed.