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2010, aftermath of tropical storm Agatha


Sink holes in Guatemala keep turning up in urban locations, taking lives and disrupting the operation of the city.  There is still no clear explanation for these holes or any prediction of where others might emerge.  This looks like a job for Transparent Earth, or what they’re calling “planet hacking.”  One can imagine an architectural competition to program such a space.  Rock climbers get priority.

On the note of embedding secrets in the ground, there comes again the question of the timescale that different places can manage.  Things change a lot faster in New York than they do in Antarctica, let’s say.  And as noted in Into Eternity (see fellow Protocol Architecture critic Jamie Kruse’s article) time is even slower below ground than above it.  And yet, different undergrounds have different time scales just like different cities do.  The earth in Japan is too seismic, and the earth in Guatemala, we are starting to notice, is also unpredictable.  The bedrock in Finland is a lot more dependable over the scale of 10,000s of years.  Can someone map the geological activity and variability throughout the world?  (this is a request, not a wondering)  Now, the fact Finland is rising to the occasion of addressing its nuclear waste issue may or may not be due to their fortunate bedrock situation.  What’s more interesting is whether there might be an economy for this type of real estate.  Taking care of one’s waste doesn’t sound as sexy as the reasons for such a market given by Protocol Architecture’s final proposal for Berlin’s future (final images will be posted soon).


What will survive into the future? Which State? Which language? Into Eternity follows the spearheads of this discussion, the Finns, who deal with it by avoiding it altogether. The problem of handling nuclear waste responsibly (a statement which proves to be oximoronic) is so pressing that it seems the only way to resolve it is to release it from its problematization and simply take action. A series of interviews with the private company that is undertaking the 100 year process of depositing Finland’s (only Finland’s) nuclear waste in the Onkalo (literally “hiding place”) displays one of the most provocative collection of blank faces. The repository must store and conceal the material from any disturbance for at least 100,000 years (that number, while inconceivable in itself, is smaller by a factor of 10 than the American one). The curiosity of mankind and the inconsistency of civilizations over time prove to be more of a problem than finding a hiding place in the earth. The scale of time above ground is so fast for such an endeavor that there’s a certain increase in assurance in underground deposits.
In a time when architects are just as concerned with information technologies as they are in structures, this film finds its relevance in showing how the project of sustaining a material condition is a lot simpler than sustaining a conceptual one. How to communicate to the future victim/perpetrator of this hiding place that they should not approach it? What is the form of this “marker?” What is a monument to and of the future? A multilingual explanatory stelae? Infographics? An emotion (a la Eisenman meets Lebbeus)? Encrypted or conceited message to deter or mislead visitors? Or is the best communication not to have any at all? Respondents in this film describe how maintaining oblivion is even more taxing than maintaining a memory.

Very few decisions can be made in the space of uncertainty, but countries like Finland have a protocol for operating in this darkness. The logic speak of the general logic under catastrophies, like fires in buildings: retardant. The project provides a series of strategies that would delay human discovery and intervention in the future. That darkness, though, cannot be simply maintained materially (which can easily be made to be self sustaining); it must also be buttressed by an intentional obfuscation of information. Darkness in this way takes more enery than light.

man-made earthquake created for geothermal power

Tectonic Warfare

Earthquakes could be a new form of warfare, or a means of energy generation.

1. Build a Dam

2. Inject Liquid Into the Ground

3. Mine a Lot of Coal

4. Drill a Gusher Dry

5. Create the World’s Biggest Building



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Chernobyl has become a wildlife haven in its abandonment. Some scientists believe the new vegetative growth and animal life show signs of mutation and are worried the species (especially birds) will affect outside habitats. Radiation is also affecting tree growth – confusing a hormone signal that a tree uses to determine which way to grow.

More at National Geographic


Darpa is researching soft robots to be used to gain covert access to denied or hostile space during combat. The video above demonstrates just one example of such a chem-bot, which moves through fluctuating levels of air inside pockets of expandable rubber skin. Through this technology, the robot is able to go from a rigid to a fluid-like state and shift shape considerably to go through openings smaller than itself.

From Darpa:

“The program seeks to develop a ChemBot that can perform several operations in sequence:

  • Travel a distance;
  • Traverse an arbitrary-shaped opening much smaller than the largest characteristic dimension of the robot itself;
  • Reconstitute its size, shape, and functionality after traversing the opening;
  • Travel a distance; and
  • Perform a function or task using an embedded payload.”

Amazingly, it also looks very similar to Cronenberg’s conception of bio-technology in Existenz.

This is extremely relevant to our previous discussions about a technology that could repair damage after natural disasters and catastrophic events. Other than war scenarios, earthquake rescue operations is one of the more positive applications proposed for this technology.

As we discussed earlier, I think the real breakthrough in technology will not be based on developments of current technology, but on something that mimics biological systems. This could be how we start to imagine our system of “instant architecture”.


PMC (Private Military Company): a $100 billion per year industry. Companies like Halliburton (an oilfield services corporation that was audited and accused of overcharging the Pentagon for oil and for getting special treatment in operations in Iraq, Kuweit and the Balkans) and Blackwater (renamed Xe, a private military security firm) are in this sector which is hired by the military when it cannot keep up with the manpower demands of wartime operations. Such firms are hired under No-Bid Contracts, also known as “sole source contracts,” which grant exclusive contracts of operation to singular contractors. These are illegal in the EU, but are used by the American military in cases of urgency. Under Coalition Provisional Authority Order 17, contractors were “not subject to Iraqi laws and regulations.” The exclusive contract compounded by Order 17 result in a lot of economic and political power and leniency to unaccountable corporations.

These ideas can be the background foundation for our project. The automated architectural machine thus starts by providing reconstruction and housing services in extreme conditions of natural or warfare disasters. They are contracted by means of this No Bid Contract and receive more and more exemptions from local law throughout the world in order to facilitate and accelerate their operations, under the rationale of extreme urgency.


“Disasters are defined by international agencies as events that overwhelm the local capacity to deal with them, necessitating a request for outside help. They include droughts, epidemics, volcanoes, storms, fires, accidents and events caused indirectly by wars. Being affected by a disaster is here defined as requiring assistance to survive, such as shelter, water, sanitation, medication or food. Of all the people affected by disasters between 1975 and 2004, 43% were in South Asia, 41% in East Asia and 5% in East Southern Africa.” Atlas of the Real World


“This morning’s devastating earthquake in Chile (8.8 on the Richter scale) had an energy equivalent of approximately 15.8 gigatons of TNT (31,600,000,000,000 lbs). To put that in perspective, it is about as much energy as would be released by 300 of the largest thermonuclear bombs ever built (the USSR’s Tsar Bomba, detonated in Novaya Zemlya in 1961).”

Someone’s post about today’s earthquake. I just thought it would be interesting to keep exploring the energy aspect of these natural disasters, especially in terms of man-made bombs. Check out how small Hiroshima is in comparison.