Cactus Border

Seth Barnard (website)
The Cooper Union
Fourth Year Design Studio
Faculty: Diana Agrest (website)


Botany has lots of architectural implications and the potential to influence the practice on a biological level. The Saguaro Cactus, native to the Sonora Desert, occupies a natural and political landscape on the Mexican-American Border. Many immigrants pass through this region because it lacks a physical wall. The ecosystem serves as a natural boundary because of its inhospitable characteristics and lack of water. How then, does life exist in such a harsh environment? The Carnegiea gigantea (Saguaro Cactus) has adapted itself to the Sonoran Desert because it knows how to attract and conserve water. Conceptually, these cactuses are columns of water– a hidden oasis in a parched landscape. To hydrate the immigrants that will inevitably cross through the desert, a water pavilion is made using the Carnegiea gigantea, Creosote bush and rocks to attract water collection and a camouflaged refuge from the elements.  

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