Design fiction about cities divided by international borders

Madeline Ashby sez, "The Border Town design studio has been invited to the Detroit Design Festival to exhibit costumes, board games, 3D-printed snowglobes, mixtapes, and other kipple of an awesome nature about cities divided by international borders. I wrote a story scattered over the Internet about the future of border security in Istanbul, and Wednesday I'll open my first art installation where visitors can explore it. Our team has met and exceeded our initial kickstarter request, but we're still looking for funds to take the exhibit elsewhere and to build new prototypes. If you're in Detroit next week, please come say hi!"


  1. Istanbul? That’s a good 100 miles from the nearest international border (with Greece). Has been since 1352.

      1. Um, no…. that would be a port city. (

        The text above says “cities divided by international borders”. Istanbul is of course part in Europe and part in Asia… but I wouldn’t call it divided. I would think of towns like Tornio/Haparanda, with one town on the Finnish side and the other on the Swedish.

        1. But any city on international waters is inevitably subject to being treated as a border crossing because water, unlike land, is virtually all traversable.

          1. Yet they are not *divided*.  A devided city – a divided anything – must have parts in area a and area b – if it’s doesn’t, it’s not divided. Under a strict interpretation, it also has to be actually the *same* city (or at least started out as one city).Istanbul doesn’t fulfill these requierements at all.

          2. Yes, I did see your point… but that’s not how it counts. And to get technical… no city is on international waters (yes, I got what you meant, but that is a big technicality, really). Is any tiny town on a shore line a border city or even a port city… nope…. or at least growing up in such a city I sure never felt like it was a border city like it would have felt if the border were “just over there”. Are cities with international airports border cities? And as any town can be accessed by an UFO, I guess that makes them all pan-galactic border cities.

            Oh… duh! I forgot the most classic example of a city divided by borders! Berlin! I bet one could make some really nice and poignant things with pre-divided, divided, and post-divided images.

    1. In April, the Turkish Prime Minister proposed splitting the city in two (along the continental divide).

      Countries change. Borders move. 

  2. Sault Ste. Marie, established in 1668 at the outlet of Lake Superior as a trading post for trappers and explorers portaging around the rapids.Split into two cities, Michigan and Ontario, in by the Boundary Waters treaty in 1812.The Michigan side was a robust city through World War II, but over reliance on a Strategic Air Command airbase led to a shrinking employment base and prospect.Meanwhile, on the Canadian side major steel and paper industry made for long term growth until the 1980s when international competition undermined profitability.

  3. Little known Nicosia can be considered a city divided by a border. Northern Cyprus was invaded by the Turks in the 70’s, and half of Nicosia (Cypriot capital) is still held by them. This is a very big subject for locals, as the Turks are still using their might to ‘bully’ the legal southern government which is now drilling for oil off the southern coast.

  4. Eeek! I should have said “this week,” NOT “next week.”The show opens THIS Wednesday. I just defended my thesis in addition to pulling my contribution to this project together, so I’m a bit scattered. Apologies!

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