It’s been a while since we thought about the doom and gloom prediction the Mayan calendar made for the end of this year, but with the days getting shorter and fall right around the corner, we’re back to wondering, what if there’s something to it? The experts claim that it was one big mix up because someone somewhere confused the Roman Stone of the Sun with the Mayan calendar and interpreted this year’s Winter equinox as the end of the world, when really it’s more of a calendar reset.
Whether you accept the idea of an imminent apocalypse or not, it’s always good to be prepared. From an underground villa in the Swiss Alps to a sprawling mini city preserving popular culture, click through to check out architecture that will save you and quite possibly your soul. Which would you choose to weather what may come?
Villa Vals by Bjarne Mastenbroek and Christian Müller – Vals, Switzerland
Image credit: HomeDSGN
If James Bond lived in a bunker, surely it would be this one. The all-equipped underground vacation home was intended to be completely integrated into the landscape to avoid spoiling the natural surroundings. As with any good underground villa, access is only possible through an underground tunnel via an unassuming wooden shed nearby.
Sammlung Boros Collection and Residence by Realarchitektur – Berlin, Germany
Image credit: TrendLand
Originally an air raid bunker built in 1942 for the German railway company to protect travelers arriving at the Friedrichstrasse Railway station, the five-story building is now the private home of Christian Boros and his family, as well as an impressive art collection including the likes of Damien Hirst, Tracy Emin, and Sarah Lucas. The architects worked closely with Boros and many of the artists to consider site-specific installations. As their site states, “in addition to the traditional so called white cube spaces, where part of the existing collection will be shown, a structural and spatial interaction between art and architecture has taken place.”
Tea House on Bunker by UNStudio Architects – Vreeland, The Netherlands
Image credit: UNStudio via e-architect
Built on land that was once part of the New Dutch Water line of defense — an 85-kilometer long system of bunkers, dykes, and water management systems built in the nineteenth century to rapidly flood land in the event of an invasion — this 1930s bunker turned guest house is now surrounded by, of all things, polo fields. A unique conservation effort is turning the land into a high-end business and sporting facility. Intended as a retreat within this exclusive mixed-use development, the architects describe the converted bunker as a “sculpture that grows out of another sculpture with patches of the original structure left visible.”
Bunker F38 by Rainer Mielke and Claus Freudenberg – Bremen, Germany
Image credit: Bunkwerwohnen
A spokeswoman for the Ministry for Citizen Protection and Disaster Response said that “some 2,000 bunkers still stand in Germany, and Mielke and Freudenberg’s projects could become an integral part of repurposing the cement structures.” There are real advantages over conventional housing. For starters, the thick walls keep it cool in summer and warm in winter, minimizing heating and cooling costs.
House in Kohoku by Torafu Architects –
Image credit: PLOT
As any well thought out, modern day bunker should, this home was designed to capture light.
Kirsch Residence by Errol Jay Kirsch – Chicago, Illinois
Image credit: Paul Goyette
Built in 1979, this menacing residence was designed by a local Chicago architect as his personal residence. Check out some (blurry) interior views on his website.
Alvéole 14 by Finn Geipel and Giulia Andi (LIN) – Saint-Nazaire, France
Image credit: Christoph Kicherer via domus
If you can’t bear to be in the bunker, build a geodesic cupola on its roof.
Bunker House by VaSLab Architecture – Lopburi, Thailand
Image credit: Spaceshift Studio via archdaily
Influenced by the profound concrete structure of nearby Pasak Cholasit Dam, the biggest reservoir in Central Thailand, this monolithic dwelling is one we wouldn’t mind being hunkered down in for awhile.
Svalbard Global Seed Vault – Spitsbergen, Norway
Image credit: Kitchen Caravan
This underground seed vault was built to preserve the world’s agricultural specimens in the event of any catastrophic circumstance or destruction by global climate change. It’s also the backup for the other 1400 seed banks around the world — in case those fail. What does that mean exactly? Well let’s just say that the plethora of heirloom tomato varietals that you have easy access to thanks to your bountiful, local green market could be made extinct in one fell swoop of a devastating natural, or man-made disaster. No need to worry now that 300,000 different seed varieties have been frozen and stored, should we need to start over.
Library of Congress Packard Campus for Audio-Visual Conservation by BAR Architects with Smith Group and SWA Group – Culpeper, Virginia
Originally built to be an underground mini-city protecting $3 billion in US currency, as well as personnel from the Federal Reserve, in the event of a nuclear holocaust, this sprawling subterranean mega complex now houses more than 6 million films, sound recordings, videotapes, and other audio-visual materials in an effort to preserve our culture in television, radio broadcasts, and Internet streams. Hey, at least we wouldn’t get bored.