Big Pink: Mexican architects imagine Trump’s wall as Luis Barragn homage

The Estudio 314 architectural practice has unveiled its pastel pink plans to realize the Republican candidates border proposal in all its gorgeous perversity

As an architectural brief it is pretty straightforward. The real estate developer turned Republican candidate Donald Trumps southern border wall will be, in the presidential hopefuls own words great, impenetrable, physical, tall, powerful, beautiful, and may perhaps also feature a big, beautiful door.

In the more measured terms of the Republican partys documents, the structure will cover the entirety of the southern border and must be sufficient to stop both vehicular and pedestrian traffic.

Trump has also declared that construction will begin on day one of his term in office, and that Mexico will pay for the thing. So, surely, engaging an architectural practice south of the border to oversee the project would be politic?

Thats the thinking behind the Mexican architectural practice Estudio 314s proposal, which offers a distinctly Latin take on the Republican wall. A team of seven interns working under 314s creative director, Leonardo Daz Borioli, reimagined the border proposal in the spirit of the great 20th-century Mexican architect Luis Barragn.

Barragn, who won the Pritzker prize in 1980 and died in 1988 at the age of 86, was known for combining simple, modernist designs with lyrical, spiritual flourishes, employing bright pinks, as well as other startling pastel shades, in his otherwise restrained works.

Estudio 314s rendering adopts a Barragn colour scheme with an equally faithful lack of ornament, though the studio has a little fun with other features in this imaginative, uncommissioned proposal. This wall also encloses a prison where 11 million undocumented people will be processed, classified, indoctrinated, and/or deported, the studio explains, making reference to Trumps immigration plans.

Interior view of the house and studio of the Mexican architect Luis Barragn. Photograph: HO/AFP/Getty Images

At other points, the wall could also accommodate a shopping mall, or even an observation terrace, where would-be migrants might look upon, but not touch, the Land of the Free.

Of course the architectural practice, which is based in Barragns birthplace of Guadalajara, does not sincerely believe its pink wall will break ground anytime soon. Instead, 314, which is more used to working on hospitality and public-park commissions, hopes its proposal will allow the public to imagine the policy proposal in all of its gorgeous perversity.

Because the wall has to be beautiful, it has been inspired by Luis Barragns pink walls that are emblematic of Mexico, says 314, adding: It also takes advantage of the tradition in architecture of megalomaniac wall building.

Well, quite. And while Barragn may have approved of the pigmentation and the clean lines, theres very little else likely to endear the scheme to the late Pritzker laureate, including the flamboyantly haired client north of the border and his swingeing terms of payment.

As the architecture critic Jonathan Glancey put it in a 2001 article, Barragn was a generous man. When he was asked to rebuild and extend a convent in Tlalpan not far from his own home, he paid for the extra work needed to give the resident nuns a special design far and above what they had expected. The result was a sensual, spiritual place influenced by the Court of the Myrtles at the Alhambra.

It seems unlikely that, in years to come, anyone will be choosing similar words to describe this wall or its chief commissioner, no matter what the colour.

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