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The Architecture of the Border: An investigation of the trinational metropolis of Basel

  • de Vries, Diederik (author)
Publication Date
Apr 15, 2021
TU Delft Repository
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The present paper investigates the architectural meaning and importance of borders in the context of increased European cooperation. The question is investigated through the case study of the trinational border area in the metropolitan region of Basel, where Switzerland, Germany and France meet. The central theme propelling the discussion is the question of how the idea of the border has changed through history in the three countries and how this has affected the architecture of the study area. The research provides an insight into how the abstract ideas of borders and nations are translated into urban form.Over the course of history, the Basel region has seen many different systems of territorial division. The physical lines can be traced back to the roman era, but the widely accepted meaning of the border has varied greatly over the centuries. The border has produced different kinds of architecture depending on the way that it was interpreted by different people in different eras. The early history of the Basel region shows that many different border demarcations could have been the outcome of antiquity and the middle ages. It was only when the border line was widely accepted as a part of everyday life, through the increasing influence of monarchies and later on, the nation states, that the border gained in power as a primary urban element in Basel. This strong position was maintained by historiographical constructions that legitimized the location and importance of the border and made the border generally accepted by the public. This new kind of border initially produced military architecture and pushed away urban centres. When capitalism and industrialization gradually took over from the feudal monarchies, a second type of architecture started to emerge. A dense industrial strip following the border was a consequence of the transition of legal apparatuses that takes place here. Following the world wars, the image of the Rhineland underwent a drastic change in the EU countries, promoting the idea of European unity. In combination with the post war economic prosperity, the deconstruction of the European borders has led to the discovery of vacant land in the middle of the Basel metropolis. The discovery of the possibilities that transnational cooperation gives has laid the foundation for a new ambition: a common international neighbourhood. / Architecture, Urbanism and Building Sciences

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