Nuclear Winter

Nuclear Winter

Hardy Wong

It is estimated that a war between superpower countries nowadays will soon go to all-out nuclear warfare. (Isobel Whitcomb, 2019). Both Matthew Francis (2017) and Seth Baum (2015) are agreed to state that not only does the exchange of weapons take million to billion lives, but the fire followed by will drastically change the atmosphere and consequence in a devastating environment. When an atom bomb explodes, one-third of its energy became an immediately deadly explosion of heat and light. This explosion followed by an aftershock, which levels any structures surrounding the detonation and creates piles of kindling prepared to catch fire. (Seth Baum, 2015) The smoke brought by the fire billows to the atmosphere, in which rain can only wipe out some of them. Most of them would move into the Stratosphere, where above the cloud, the smoke could remain for years and block the sunlight. It is also known as the ‘Nuclear Winter.’ (Matthew Francis, 2017) 

“Beneath the clouds, virtually all domesticated and wild sources of food would be destroyed. Most of the human survivors would starve to death. The extinction of the human species would be a real possibility.” (Carl 1983) Most scientists in the 1980s believed that the ‘Nuclear Winter’ is entirely uninhabitable. Nevertheless, Isobel Whitcomb (2019) and Matthew Francis (2017) argue that there could be around one per cent population that survives by living far away or under the warzone. In the book, The Doomsday Machine: Confessions of a Nuclear War Planner, written by Daniel Ellsberg (2017), He declares that seventy per cent of sunlight will be reduced in the ‘Nuclear Winter,’ and it would wipe out numerous species in the world. Still, he also believes that there would be survivors who had built bunkers or even a whole underground civilization. 


Reading the photo book, Bunker Archeology, written by Paul Viriloio in 1974, I have learned he had an engaging way to approach the topics of shelters through photographs, orthographic drawings, maps, and essays. Furthermore, I have studied several shelters in World War Second and generated some geometries. Most of them are naturally rigid and robust due to their particular shapes and materials.

The collage abstractly shows my design idea of the Shelter & Restaurant in the event of the nuclear attack. Taking precedents from such Cheyenne Mountain Complex and the Reef of Silence, I have suggested the Shelter be built beneath the Europa building. When bombs destroy the building, the installation will rise and act as a lighthouse attracting and guiding people to enter the Shelter. The components of the Shelter are integrated to maximise movements and interaction. The geometries nearby the site, such as the brutalist architecture, the Cadogan Square, and the Kentigern House, have significantly informed my design. I believe that recreating and employing such patterns in areas such as the ‘Accommodation Unit’ and the ‘forum’ can help the survivors inhabit the structure more easily and quickly. Learning from the Cheyenne Mountain Complex, as well as The Doomsday Machine: Confessions of a Nuclear War Planner, written by Daniel Ellsberg (2017), the Shelter must have its power plant and water supply. I have visualised an advanced Water System which can collect rain and melt snow into water. With references to composting the corpses of animals, I further imagine the Shelter will be equipped with a ‘Dead Transferring’ machine, which can assign robots to collect dead animals and transfer them into nutrients liquid or powder. 

The shelter complex is equipped with several components trying to meet the essential needs of human living underground. I have focused on the main areas as the following: 1) The Entrance 2) Arrival 3) The Restaurant 4) The Water System 5) Recycling the Dead. Many of their shapes recall the Shelters in World War Second as well as the Brutalist Architecture nearby. 

After examining the Future Shelter, I have realised that it is crucial to consider the way of governing the complex. If we suggest the same political system, we will probably end with the same result: war. The bottom space, ‘Forum,’ is the key or the beginning of this doubt. In Plato’s philosophy, ‘Forum’ is the perfect place in which non-physical (but substantial) forms or ideas represent the most accurate reality. (Jennifer Wilber 2019) In the design, I have not defined any particular object or function of the space. This interiority allows open access to amusement, discussions, exchange of knowledge. Due to the combined reception of survivors from all classes in the ‘old’ society, I believe the ‘Forum,’ a completely open space, will soon develop the underground civilization into the status of ‘Anarchism,’ a social Philosophy which rejects all form of hierarchies. I believe the residents in the new community will evolve into self-governed. With assistance from the advanced mechanism in the under ‘world,’ the resources are sufficient for all. People will no longer have an argument or fight for their benefit as they are all equal in both social status and energy allocation.

Eventually, there will be another worldwide warfare. With an understanding of the traditional shelters in both World Wars, such as Underground Stations in London (used in Second Wolrd War), and the theorised of the horrific ambiance in ‘Nuclear Winter,’ an underground complex structure has been proposed. It demonstrates more potentials to provide a livelihood under such circumstances. The interior spaces in the Shelter are symbolic. Some intend to recollect the memories of the ‘above world,’ and help residents settle down. It is crucial to have advanced robots and machines sustaining this underground civilization. Mechanical systems such as the ‘Water System’ and ‘Recycling the Dead’ taking geometrical advantages from the models of earlier shelters. It has brought a further question: how would the new society in which people live different from the one we are today? Without answering this question, it seems the hypothesis of the Shelter can only maintain social order in the short-term. 

I incline to believe the advanced technologies would bring at least one of the qualities of an Ideal State – ‘Equality for all through communism,’ a theoretical concept mentioned by Plato. However, ‘Democracy’ should be converted to ‘Oligarchy’ as the society consists of mixed ‘classes’ of people in a random proportion. (R. S. Bluck 1959). Perhaps, World War Third will never come; this Shelter will never be built. Importantly, the design scheme aims to express concerns over the increased tensions between nations in the past few decades. It focuses on the aspect of how inhabitants can institute an undercover community to escape from the damaged world above ground. 



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