Decades after World War II and the Cold War, the world is agonising over nuclear threats from North Korea.
The country recently tested its most powerful intercontinental ballistic missile to date, which leader Kim Jong-un claims can reach the United States. North Korea’s foreign ministry also said on Wednesday that war on the Korean peninsula is “inevitable”.
These warnings may be one reason why some people – from Tokyo to Australia to the US – are showing an interest in purchasing bunkers designed to preserve life in the event of a nuclear explosion.
Many 20th century bunkers have, however, been repurposed since nuclear threats have waned in recent decades. Architects have turned old bunkers into all sorts of creative spaces, including farms, nightclubs, and apartments.
Take a look at these transformations below.
Built in the early 1940s, this above-ground bunker in Siegen, Germany had a long and narrow layout. It was meant to protect civilians in the event of air raids, according to German broadcaster Deutsche Welle.
Architects from local firm Modulbuero transformed it into a luxury apartment complex in 2016. The minimalist units feature all the fittings of modern homes: bedrooms, kitchens, bathrooms, living rooms, huge windows, storage, and balconies with sliding glass doors.
Now called Medienbunker, this former shelter was a WWII anti-aircraft tower in Hamburg, Germany.
In 2000, a film production company called PYP turned it into a theatre and co-working space for companies that focus on the arts.
The building hosts graphic design and dance classes, a radio station, and a music hall. Independent filmmakers also regularly screen their works there.
Completed in 1956, Bunker-42 stretches 75,000 square feet and lies 213 feet underground in Moscow. When it was a bunker, the complex could feed up to 3,000 people for 90 days in the event of a nuclear blast.
The bunker was decommissioned after 30 years, and in 2006, it was turned into a space that functions as a Cold War museum, karaoke bar, restaurant, wedding venue, and conference space under the same name.
Since 2000, German architects from the firm Bunkerwohnen have worked to turn six shelters into apartments and event spaces.
The penthouse pictured above is on the roof of Bunker-F38 in the Claussenstraße neighbourhood of Bremen, Germany. The second floor of the building was converted into two smaller apartments, and the ground floor serves as a gallery space for art and music.
In 2009, the same architects from Bunkerwohnen turned Bunker-B35 into a space for bands to practise in Bremen, Germany.
The architects wrote on their website that the former shelter’s 3.6-foot-thick walls provide ideal sound insulation for instruments. The building, featuring a mural on one of its exterior walls, has 19 rooms that bands can rent.
China built hundreds of thousands of air-raid shelters in the 1960s and 1970s.
In 2016, an underground shelter in Shanghai re-opened as a bar called The Bunker, according to City Weekend’s website. The venue sells craft cocktails, and the servers take orders dressed in military uniforms.
In 1936, the Dutch government built two conjoined bunkers in Vreeland, a coastal village 20 miles south of Amsterdam.
Seventy years later, local architecture firm UnStudio renovated the structure into a business retreat called the Tea House on Bunker. It now has one large atrium with a skylight that points toward a polo field.
During the WWII Blitz, this bunker near the Clapham North Underground station served as a shelter for 8,000 Londoners, according to The Independent.
It laid abandoned for decades. But in 2014, agricultural startup Zero Carbon Food turned it into a subterranean farm. The team uses a technique called hydroponic farming, in which crops grow under LEDs in nutrient-rich water.
The 2.5 acre farm, located 100 feet below ground, grows vegetables like peashoots, micro radish, and mustard redleaf.
Around 200 concrete bunkers for Nazi soldiers were built along the Danish coast during WWII.
Denmark’s largest was the Tirpitz Bunker, which measured 7,500 square feet and was located in Blåvand. Named after a German battleship, the bunker never saw military action. Nazi soldiers abandoned its construction in 1945.
In June 2017, architecture firm Bjarke Ingels Group transformed the partially underground building into the Blåvand Bunker Museum, where visitors can learn about the history of WWII and the Danish West Coast.
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