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59 | Architecture at the Border of Design and Politics

Ronald Rael is an applied architectural researcher, design activist, author, and thought leader in the fields of additive manufacturing and earthen architecture. Additionally, he works extensively in the field of research at the intersection of politics and architecture at the U.S. Mexico Border.

59 | Architecture at the Border of Design and Politics

Rael earned his Master of Architecture degree at Columbia University in the City of New York, where he was the recipient of the William Kinne Memorial Fellowship. Previously, his academic and professional appointments included positions at the Southern California Institute for Architecture, Clemson University, the University of Arizona, and the Office for Metropolitan Architecture in Rotterdam. 

His book, Borderwall as Architecture: A Manifesto for the U.S.-Mexico Boundary, advocates for a reconsideration of the existing barrier dividing the U.S. and Mexico through design proposals that are hyperboles of actual scenarios that have occurred as a consequence of the Wall. Rael’s work looks at cross-border exchange, examining the flows of culture, people, economy and ecology across the border. His investigations into border architecture stretch back ten years, and concern ‘the spaces between walls.’

The recent escalation of border rhetoric and ideological conflict worldwide has renewed public attention to this particular border, although none of the issues there are new issues. The landscape, the ecology, and the politics remain a shifting mosaic that is best understood by those that live and work in this bi-national community. Political rhetoric turns a regional issue into a national one, and moreover, into an ideological one.

In addition to his work as an author, Rael co-founded Emerging Objects, an independent, creatively driven, 3D Printing MAKE-tank specializing in innovations in 3D printing architecture, building components, environments and products. A monograph of the work of Emerging Objects entitled “Printing Architecture: Innovative Recipes for 3D Printing” was published in 2018. He was also the co-founder of the start-up wood technology company, FORUST, where he maintains a position as design and technology consultant.

Currently, Ronald Rael is the Eva Li Memorial Chair in Architecture in the Department of Architecture in the College of Environmental Design, and is also a member of the art faculty in the Department of Art Practice at the University of California Berkeley. 


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