Euro-Pass investigates the design and architecture of the external borders and the secured border areas of Europe and the EU.
Through our fieldwork we examine the structures, objects and human interactions that together constitute and shape the border in order to create debate and reflection on modern security, control and conflict in Europe.

The Schengen Paradox

With the introduction of Schengen cooperation in the late 1980s and the fall of Berlin Wall in 1989, the foundations of a boundless and open world of free movement seem to be laid in Europe. Nevertheless, the number of border walls and fences increased remarkably in the years to come. In 1989, 17 border walls existed in the world. By 2017 the number had risen to 75. Many of the new borders were raised in Europe (Elisabeth Vallet in Politiken, 4.2.18).

This development indicates a strange paradox: the greater freedom of movement achieved, the more limits are set up around us.
At the same time events such as the refugee crisis, Brexit and the renewed contention between Russia and the West recently demonstrated with the Russian annexing of Crimea, highlights internal conflicts and dilemmas in Europe. On one side the respect for universal human rights and free movement that constitute the ideological basis of Europe. Yet, on the other side, a seeming need for limitations, particularly expressed through the increase and fortification of European borders.

A greater insight in the design and architecture of European borders can tell us something about how this paradox can be understood and interpreted, and how Europe as a territory, a structure and an idea is shaped by its demarcations – its borders.

Found object, 2018: Hook used by migrants to climb the fence of Melilla in Morocco/Spain. A design made as a clear response to the architecture of the external European border.


The purpose of the project is to discuss and explore the secured border areas in Europe as a form of total design that contains concrete solutions on problems as well as raises ethical and structural issues.
Through our fieldwork we want to communicate the contexts and paradoxes of border areas and securitization through objects, symbols, visualizations and human narratives.

We work with design research and journalistic methods in order to create and describe design in relation to the external European borders. By using design and architecture as a narrative form, we wish to portray the physical form of modern borders in relation to the people who live in the presence of borders. At the same time we wish to reinterpret and visualize different border structures and use design and architecture as a tool for creating debate and reflection on modern security culture.

Examples of field research

Walk the line

As a method “walk the line” consists of an observational hike or walk along all or parts of the borderline in the pre-selected areas. Initial studies are conducted on the form and function of the border, as well as observations of people and everyday life in the border region. Initial mapping of buildings and landscape, as well as photo and video documentation is carried out.
During this initial field research, significant and interesting areas of study are identified, which we refer to as "site-specifics”.

Four days hike along Norwegian/Russian border in Svanvik, Sør-Varanger, Norway, 2018.
Documentation of the fenced border of Melilla in Morocco/Spain, 2018.

Site-specific locations

The site-specific locations are areas that have special functions or behavioural purposes in relation to the borderline or adjacent areas.
At the site-specific locations we investigate formations, contexts and contradictions between landscape, design and architecture. The presence of particular objects or symbols is documented and recorded. Special events, activities and human presence are observed.

The old railroad bridge used to connect the two border towns Belcoo (Northern Ireland) and Blacklion (Ireland). The British Army blew up the bridge in the 1970s. Ireland, 2019

Objects, symbols and buildings

By documenting objects, symbols and the built environment in the different border regions we examine human made material as a matter of relations. Objects, symbols and buildings often have a human intended function. However, being put into action, agencies, transformations and new functions appear. Objects are on the first hand silent but, as the sociologist Bruno Latour puts it, we will try to “make them talk”.

The design of objects serves to mediate human relationships and everyday experience and behaviour in the border regions. Normally a pair of sneakers is made for walking or running. What we found in Melilla was sneakers made for climbing the wired fence – a certain redesign of classic shoe wear. Found object, Melilla, 2019
By interviewing and observing Norwegian border soldiers, we discovered their use of traditional Sami-knives as a symbol of the region and an appropriation of a civilian tool into a military symbol and object. Norway, 2018
Traffic signs on the northern border of Northern Ireland seem to have the intention to guide drivers not to exceed the speed limits. But at the otherwise seamless and invisible border, the signs also carried the message “Welcome to Northern Ireland”, thus rendering it visible. Moreover, the traditional, neutral communication of speed limits, were also perceived as a colonial object for some people in the north and therefore repainted. Even the use of “miles per hour” was understood as British, whereas “kilometres per hour” was considered Irish. Ireland, 2019.

Situations, myths and activities

As part of our research we conduct interviews and have conversations with authorities and locals in the areas concerned to identify particular situations, legends or activities where people interact with the border in different ways. We hereby wish to link the human action, storytelling and emotion to the objects and the physical structures of the borders.

Moroccans crossing the border from Melilla into Morocco with commodities and goods. Morocco/Spain, 2018

The Team

The project Euro-Pass is part of the platform Architecture of Control, which works with design and architecture in relation to security and surveillance. As a group we consist of spatial designer Joram Raaijmakers (NL), journalist Rasmus Dalland (DK) and visual designer Asmus Lauridsen (DK). We describe our method and workflow as an investigative design and research practice, adopting an interdisciplinary approach and draw on methods and ideas deriving from the realm of design, architecture and journalism.

Campsite, during four days hike along the Norwegian/Russian border in Svanvik, Sør-Varanger in Norway, 2018