We believe a great deal can be learned by investigating the edge cases of the world. Border towns -- cities built on or divided by borders -- are places where political and cultural geography is stretched to its limits.

In a border town, abstractions are made physical. Residents of border towns can look over a river, across a street, or through a fence and see their foreign neighbors. The powerful influence of law and culture is made visible when towns across a river from one another develop to completely different levels of prosperity. Questions about security and freedom change when you must pass through a checkpoint, daily, to visit your neighbors. The importance of national sovereignty feels different when your enemy sits on the other side of a wall.

Border Town is a multi-participant collaborative design studio based in Toronto, Ontario. We spent the summer investigating the conditions that surround life in cities built on borders, divided by borders, or located in conflict zones.

These are some of our favorite sites:

Maps: Lea Albaugh; text: Emily Horne and Tim Maly.