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arch out loud's Nuclear competition winners create urgent solutions for New Mexico's disposal site

United States Architecture News - Dec 18, 2017 - 05:13   16847 views

arch out loud's Nuclear competition winners create urgent solutions for New Mexico's disposal site

Architectural research initiative arch out loud has released the winners of its "Nuclear" international open-ideas competition, which created urgent solutions for a disposal site titled "Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP)" in New Mexico, United States. Titled Nuclear: Landmarker For A Waste Isolation Site, arch out loud hosted a competition that asked designers 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. To ensure public safety, it is imperative that the site remain undisturbed for the duration of the waste’s decay process.

arch out loud asked competition entrants to design a marker or marker system to deter inadvertent human intrusion into the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant. The marker should exist as a means of passive institutional control of the site for the duration of 10,000 years, following the closure and deactivation of the WIPP. The purpose of the marker is to communicate with future generations that transuranic waste is buried within a repository at the facility, located 2,150 feet beneath its surface, and should remain isolated until the risks posed by its release have been sufficiently diminished.

The Nuclear competition yielded quite a variety of proposals. From fixed, physical monuments to transitory landmarks, participants envisioned an enormous range of approaches towards the topic. Some projects featured a series of markers, each changing and adapting to conditions over time. 

Many allowed the site to be occupiable and engaged the viewer through the creation or repurpose of biological, technological, and natural forces. The arch out loud team will be presenting an analysis of the competition proposals at the Waste Management in Phoenix, Arizona this upcoming March. The winners and runner-up projects will be on continuous display through the five day symposia event.

The competition jury consisted of Patrik Schumacher, Ben Van Berkel, Martha Schwartz, Marc Tsurumaki, Eva Franch, Meejin Yoon, Geoff Manaugh, Hsinming Fung, Daniel Arsham, Vivian Lee, Jamie Von Klemperer, Russel Paderson, Thomas Klein, Micheal Madsen, Theodor Hoerr, and Elaine Molinar.

See the full winning projects below with short project info:

arch out loud's Nuclear competition winners create urgent solutions for New Mexico's disposal site

Testbed Perspective in 7017

1st prize: Testbed by Tei Carpenter, Arianna Deane, Ashley Kuo - Brooklyn, New York, USA

Testbed transforms the WIPP area into a climate engineering experiment site to be initially managed by the Department of Energy. Rather than communicating a warning through monument or obstacle, the project manipulates the geology of the site itself by setting in motion an open-ended assemblage of processes that generate an entangled scientific earthwork comprised of agitated hybrid formations, neither natural nor human-made. 

The project deploys an array of carbon dioxide capturing strategies across the WIPP site, including ex situ mineral sequestration, in situ geologic storage, and direct air capture farms, to generate an active marker system that passively stores one type of energetic byproduct—carbon dioxide—in the surface above another: the transuranic waste secured below. By using climate engineering to create a new geology, Testbed takes advantage of the site’s already compromised condition to encumber it through experimentation, doubling down on disturbance to ensure the site will remain undisturbed. Through their continued growth and transformation over time, these new geological forms mark the site as something deeply strange and unfamiliar, communicating its otherness by intervening in fundamental processes.

arch out loud's Nuclear competition winners create urgent solutions for New Mexico's disposal site

7017: 5,000-Year Plan Projection Showing Testbed Processes Underway

arch out loud's Nuclear competition winners create urgent solutions for New Mexico's disposal siteOrganization of Carbon Dioxide Capturing Strategies

arch out loud's Nuclear competition winners create urgent solutions for New Mexico's disposal siteTechnologies and Processes

arch out loud's Nuclear competition winners create urgent solutions for New Mexico's disposal site

Runner up: A Crystalline Funeral by Jiahui Guo, Bin Yan - St. Louis, Missouri, USA

How can an isolated landmark reveal itself as a coffin to seal the radioactive nuclear wastes, and how can the crystalline funeral, reveal and warn the considerable influence of human power to the future generation throughout the 10,000 duration of decay of nuclear substance, and probably, the human being as well? 

Salt crystal, which constantly seals the nuclear substance underground, will be regarded as a metaphoric connection between the funerals on the ground and the ones under it. Extra salt crystals in or around the site will be collected to build series of crystalline coffins, to seal the extinct species, one for each year, an ongoing funeral which lasts for 10,000 years, when the central church seals the last human being...

arch out loud's Nuclear competition winners create urgent solutions for New Mexico's disposal site

View of the central church

arch out loud's Nuclear competition winners create urgent solutions for New Mexico's disposal site

View of the coffins

arch out loud's Nuclear competition winners create urgent solutions for New Mexico's disposal site

Exchange of salt substance

arch out loud's Nuclear competition winners create urgent solutions for New Mexico's disposal site

Time sequence of the funeral

arch out loud's Nuclear competition winners create urgent solutions for New Mexico's disposal site

Timeline analysis

arch out loud's Nuclear competition winners create urgent solutions for New Mexico's disposal site

A Storm is Blowing from Paradise - Compressed

Runner up: A Storm Is Blowing From Paradise by Steven Schimamoto - Brooklyn, New York, USA

A contrast between monument and terrain signifies a tension between geological resources and human affliction. This monument symbolizes a parasitic operation that reaches deep into the darkest side of humanity. It is a memorial for the exploitation of Mother Earth, the Native American mining communities, the genius of scientists, 130,000 individual lives, and the endless generations to come that are affected by these operations.

Volcanic basalt stone wraps the perimeter of the 16 mile site. Within this, large boulders fill the interior. These boulders would erode and slip out of the open corners of the monument, eventually to become cemented into the geological strata; a physical recording of anthropocentric presence and perhaps, absence.

arch out loud's Nuclear competition winners create urgent solutions for New Mexico's disposal site

A Storm in Blowing from Paradise - North Corner - Present Day

arch out loud's Nuclear competition winners create urgent solutions for New Mexico's disposal site

A Storm in Blowing from Paradise - North Corner - Future Day

arch out loud's Nuclear competition winners create urgent solutions for New Mexico's disposal site

A Storm in Blowing from Paradise -Satellite Plan - Present Day

arch out loud's Nuclear competition winners create urgent solutions for New Mexico's disposal site

A Storm in Blowing from Paradise -Satellite Plan - Ice Age

arch out loud's Nuclear competition winners create urgent solutions for New Mexico's disposal site

A Storm in Blowing from Paradise -Satellite Plan - Post Ice Age

arch out loud's Nuclear competition winners create urgent solutions for New Mexico's disposal site

Runner up: Lodestar by Noah Green, Ryan Rideout, Gilberto Villalobos - Seadle, Washington, USA

For millennia, cultures across the world have attached deep significance to celestial movements and cycles. Ancient civilizations derived meaning from constellations and planets and wove astrology into mythology and religion. In the second millennium, sailors used the stars to navigate an unknown world. 

Among these stars, the North Star has held the greatest importance as a means of wayfinding. Lodestar relies on simple architectural gestures to communicate the danger buried deep within the site. Tied to greater celestial movements, the landmark is not dependent on language or a site steward to communicate the passing of 10,000 years.

arch out loud's Nuclear competition winners create urgent solutions for New Mexico's disposal site

"Perhaps the very act of this competition, is a marker in itself – and perhaps the only viable," said Michael Madsen, as related to the competition.

"In the scenario of transuranic nuclear waste I am interested how we can deal with the environment to activate ideas and mader, triggering innovative ways of interactive simulation, looking into how the essence of sustainability started," said Ben Van Berkel of UNStudio.

"When thinking about the challenge of creating a marker that will last for 10,000 years, it needs to be simple to interpret, without complicated text or graphics to convey the history or the danger that is placed at the site," added Vivian Lee.

The next arch out loud international competition will release in December and asks designers to propose a mixed housing solution that brings together different groups of people on the coast of Mumbai, India. 

Top image: 1st winner - 7017: 5,000-Year Geologic Axonometric Projection (12,000’ H x 12,000’ W x 9,500’ D)

Al images courtesy of arch out loud

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