In May, inspired by an email exchange between philosophers Lieven De Cauter and Dieter Lesage, Domus invited readers to send in their ideas for possible ways to connect the European and African continents across the Strait of Gibraltar. The results range in scale—and feasibility—from a simple cablecar to a giant floating Mediterranean city, frequently questioning the troubled history of the relationship between the two continents. Lieven and Dieter's selections appeared in Domus 949; now Geoff Manaugh is the first of our guest curators to select his favorite entries out of the hundreds Domus received.
How to connect entire continents, when there is no political plan in place, no social foresight, no local economy on the rise? Architecture here—engineering, imagination, design—is forced to fill the breach, stepping in where other attempts at dialogue (and deliberate isolation) have failed.
Postcard #1. [top image] The idea that a future crossing between continents might consist of nothing but the discarded hulls of old supertankers is perhaps unnecessarily cynical, unless we consider that we could all be tourists—or is it spelunkers?—of the boundary line, walking the ruins of dead ships, misaligned with the horizon, its own nation-state of the abandoned, housing those who have been abandoned by nation-states. Perhaps the wreckage of this world will be the very thing that connects us in the next.
Postcard #10.[above] Or why not go with pure and simple engineering? The perfect suspension bridge sprays out across the sea, spiraling with tension and redundancy, cross-strung like a lyre—like smoke rings—straightforward, complex, and majestic.
Postcard #16. Here, movement between worlds becomes as unstable as it is sublime. Precarious and lonely, this is the most emotionally accurate proposal of them all: isolated and beyond the help of others, yet confident in the onward insistence of a journey from one state to the next, this single walker advances step by step, free to fall, unwitnessed, pursuing a final survival that only comes through exposure to extreme risk.
Postcard #118. This is the border as international airlift: an endless string of balloons re-launched one after the other into a constellation in the sky. But this connection sinks—it will always deflate—it must be established again and again, endlessly refreshed, spectacular yet Sisyphean, an improvised performance that mocks the very geographies it tries to unite.
Postcard #177. The divide between north and south can also be crossed by camouflage, whole nations blurred together in an indistinct zone of noise, pixilation, and artifice. The landscape here seems to make most sense from above—the only angle that matters these days—as satellites and high-altitude air passengers gaze down in feigned states of political disinterest. This is an anonymous earth, its edges marked by interference, terrestrially conjoined and unrecognizable.