Ben Hayward January 20th

A collection of bright pink seesaws placed through the US-Mexico border wall has won the prestigious Design of the Year award.

The creators of the Teeter Totter Wall, Ronald Rael, a professor of architecture at the University of California, Berkeley, and Virginia San Fratello, an associate professor of design at San José State University, say it was designed in the hope it would encourage people to build bridges between communities, and help create ‘dialogue rather than division’.

The pair first came up with the idea all the way back in 2006, when the so-called ‘Fence Act’ began the large-scale building of a barrier on the border.


San Fratello said: “I think it’s become increasingly clear with the recent events in our country that we don’t need to build walls we need to build bridges.”

“Walls don’t stop people from entering our Capitol,” Rael added. “Walls don’t stop viruses from moving. We have to think about how we can be connected and be together without hurting each other.”

Videos of people interacting and playing on the installation went viral in July 2019, with the bright pink colouring inspired by the femicide memorials in Ciudad Juarez, which pay tribute to women murdered in the city.


Although the building of a border wall has become synonymous with the legacy of  Donald Trump, Rael and San Fratello point out that both George W Bush and Barack Obama built large stretches of the barriers and deported thousands of people.

Rael said: “[Trump] ran on a platform of saying that he was going to build a wall as if some Saviour had finally arrived to build a wall but in fact two thirds of the wall had already been constructed.”

According to the US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) over 450 miles of wall had been put up during Trump’s presidency, although a lot of it actually just replaced barriers that were already in place, with just 80 miles of it built in places that previously had none.


Winners in other categories include the vegan Impossible Burger 2.0, the 3D rendering of the Covid-19 virus by Alissa Eckert and Dan Higgins and Collaborative’s portable school design with its easily assembled, sustainably made Indian structure impressing the judges.

The People’s Choice award was awarded to the brick arches made by protesters in Hong Kong, which were used to slow down police vehicles during the protests in 2019.

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