Borders in the air

MUGAK, Basque Country International Architecture Biennial


A Fine Line is a platform for conversation and debate exploring the hidden realities below —and besides— line widths, giving special attention to their border condition, the theme proposed for this first edition of the MUGAK, I International Architecture Biennial, San Sebastián. This project proposes an analysis and problematisation of the concept from the perspective of architecture and its context, with the aim to acknowledge and visibilise its complex and polysemic character, and transcend merely geo-political considerations.

Borders in the air for Afineline. Responsibility and strategies to manage the diffuse and fluid borders of air pollution

Air is a gas in constant transformation. It moves with the wind, changes its configuration with temperature, responds to topographical conditions, mixes with the airs it encounters. Thus, the air can be different on the opposite sidewalks of a street, and at the same time have compounds that come from far away. And it is increasingly contaminated.

It is clear that the air does not understand of geopolitical borders, as evidenced by the Sahara air that travels often over the Iberian Peninsula, or the yellow dust that runs through Southeast Asia in the spring. However, the air does understand about practices. It receives the residues we emit when we travel by plane, use the car or eat beef. But we are not equally responsible about these emissions. It has been demonstrated that 100 multinationals are responsible for 71% of CO2 emissions into the atmosphere, and its effects always affect the most disadvantaged, as the president of Dominica claimed after Maria Hurricane at the UN. That is why contamination is described as a way of colonization.


In this context, we ask ourselves: Who and how will we demand the responsibility of improving it? How do we understand the city with these airs, which are hyper-local and transnational at the same time? And, what can we do, as citizens and as architects?

It seems that we have not found ways to significantly improve air quality. So we have rescued "Fresh Air Cart", a performance that Gordon Matta Clark made in the streets of Wall Street in 1972, for which he built a "pure air" mobile station. If we have not managed to improve air quality, is the Fresh Air Cart an alternative to inhabit toxic environments? And if so, how do we manage the differences in the airs we breathe? How do we respond to fuzzy and diffuse borders of the toxic air around us?


C+ Arquitectas

Borders in the air, Project research

Nerea Calvillo, Marina Fernández




Maite Borjabad, Lluís Alexandre Casanovas, Enrique Espinosa, Lys Villalba

Art director, photography & video

Jorge López Conde

Project research participants

C+ (Nerea Calvillo & Marina Fernández), CAMPO, Cooking Sections, Echoing Borders, Matteo Ghidoni, Husos, Kosmos Architects, M7red, Gili Merin, Pez Estudio, RUJA (Jose Jajaja & Ruohong Wu), Malkit Shoshan, Takk, Taller de Casquería, URBZ & Venida Devenida

Workshop participants

Naiara Alava Aguirre, Katrin Rodríguez Aldanondo, Alberto Cendoya, Ane Chueca Uria, Ula Iruretagoiena Busturia, Marta López Tamayo, Rocío Merchante Gutiérrez, Ane Rezola Tolosa, Nuria Sacristán García, Maialen Santos Sampedro

Project coordinator-producer

Atari K.A.

Project supporting institutions

Gobierno Vasco, Diputación Foral de Gipuzkoa, & Tabakalera (Centro Internacional de Cultura Contemporánea)