The [In] Visible Line in Architecture

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Virginia Tech

"Vision is regarded as the most noble of the senses, and the loss of eyesight as the ultimate physical loss" -- Juhani Pallasmaa

To see or not to see?   As a child growing up in the Dominican Republic, my vision was blurred by a perception strongly held by my elders.  A perception that have been nurtured and carried out for many centuries.  This perception have kept me away from the 'reality', limiting my vision to what existed in the other side of the borderline.   As my eyes were blindfolded, my ears opened to received words that would slowly construct my own imaginary world.  A particular world, in which hearing was dominant over my other senses.  As one would imagine that a world could painful while living in 'darkness', what was actually painful was living with the existence of the unknown, of the invisible

In April 2011, I decided to visit the imaginary line that runs along Dominican Republic and Haiti.  My experience was truly remarkable.  At that present moment, I had a very exciting encounter with a new sense of reality.  As I approached to an unfinished construction, I climbed to a metal stair reaching an altitude of nearly twenty feet.  My eyes witnessed what was hidden for nearly thirty years of my existence. Through the wavy transparent mirage caused by the refraction of the blistering sun, I was able to see the neighboring country of Haiti for the first time.  Along the Massacre River, there was an element that immediately captivated by curiosity.  It was  a thin, blue metal gate located right in the middle of a concrete bridge that expanded east and west uniting the border towns of Dajabon and Ounaminthe. To my eyes, this gate was a visible and an invisible boundary -- A line, a remarkably powerful, and fundamental element in Architecture -- which was strongly visible, by dividing and marking its presence demarcating territories.  Yet, was also transparent uniting two cultures during the market days.

My thesis unfolds in the quest of what can exist by the emergence of the visible and the invisible -- what I envisioned while standing at the site, a Binational Market along the imaginary line.

psychological barrier, borderline, integration, sense of place, boundary, limits, union, division, integration, thresholds