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Nuclear: The Latest Architecture and News

Winners of Landmark for Nuclear Waste Isolation Announced

Architectural research initiative, arch out loud, have released winners for their international competition to design a landmark for a nuclear waste site in New Mexico. As part of the brief, participants were required to design a timeless piece of architecture that could stand for 10,000 years to warn future generations of the unstable by-products of nuclear weapon production that are buried 2,150 feet beneath the surface.

In the competition, many entrants engaged with the local geology of the site where the waste isolation pilot plant (WIPP) is situated for the landmark that would withstand millenniums. Testbed, the winner of the competition, proposed ex-situ mineral sequestration by reacting olivine or basalt with carbon dioxide to form inert and solid carbonate material to capture the gas, that would act as an ‘artificial tree.' The other proposals questioned the site and the underlying issues regarding human involvement with nuclear activities and the consequences, designing structures that heavily juxtaposed the natural landscape.

International Competition: Landmarker for a Nuclear Waste Site

How do we design architecture with a message that could endure for millennia ?

Since the Cold War, one of the most challenging and urgent tasks facing governments around the world has been the disposal of transuranic nuclear waste. As a by-product from nuclear weaponry production, transuranic waste is not only harmful, but also boasts a formidable decay process lasting thousands of years. To address this issue, millions of barrels of highly radioactive waste have been buried in repositories deep beneath the earth’s surface. One such disposal site is the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) in New Mexico, United States. To ensure public safety, it is imperative that the site remain undisturbed for the duration of the waste’s decay process.

6 Structures Designed to Save Humanity From Itself

On April 26th 1986, the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant in the city of Pripyat in northern Ukraine suffered a catastrophic failure, resulting in a nuclear meltdown and a series of explosions which scattered radioactive material across large areas of Ukraine, Belarus and Russia. More than 50,000 people were evacuated the following day, and over the next 14 years another 300,000 people were moved, leading to an exclusion zone today measuring 2,600 square kilometers that will likely remain in place for hundreds of years. To this day, the human cost of the disaster is still unknown, with estimates that in their lifetimes, anywhere between 4,000 and 200,000 people will be affected by cancers attributable to the incident. Along with the Fukushima Nuclear Disaster of 2011, the Chernobyl Disaster is one of only two level 7 nuclear events in history.

Today, exactly 30 years later, the incident at Chernobyl remains one of the most poignant demonstrations of humanity’s mastery over its environment, and also one of the most powerful demonstrations of how easily, and how catastrophically, that mastery can go awry. But humans are if nothing else resilient, and throughout history have used every means at their disposal to put right the problems they have caused for themselves - including a number of structures constructed to mitigate the effects of man-made disasters, both from humanity’s past and its possible future.