Few architects have to design anything to last more than 100 years, so how do you build a nuclear waste facility to last for millennia? And what sign do you put on the door? Onkalo, which is Finnish for “hiding place”, it was the subject of a documentary last year, Into Eternity. Retitled Nuclear Eternity and broadcast on More4, the film fully appreciates the Kubrickian visual aspects of the nuclear landscape and the staggering challenges the project presents to our notions of permanence, history – even time itself. Onkalo will be ready to take waste in 2020, and then will be finally sealed in 2120, after which it will not be opened for 100,000 years. By that time, Finland will probably have been through another ice age. Little trace of our current civilisation will remain. The prospect of designing anything to last even 200 years is unlikely for most architects; the Egyptian pyramids are “only” about 5,000 years old.
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