319_Daniel Whelan: The Black Pit

Dan Whelan from Australia, Melbourne; “Dan is a design driven Graduate of Architecture, living and working in Melbourne. He is passionate about sustainable design and community building, believing that quality design should not only respect the surrounding environment but should be ever forward looking in its approach while remaining timeless. He believes architecture should not only be ascetically appealing and functional, but like art, make you feel something. With a strong skill-base in architectural design, documentation and visualization, he creates unique designs challenging the status quo.”

Website: http://danwhelanarchitecture.com

University: RMIT University | Melbourne | Australia

Instagram Username: @danwhelanarchitecture

Name of Project: The Black Pit

Project Description: “It is unnerving… I look about and see nothing, no colours, no beauty, only darkness. The dry ground crackles under each footstep. Trees with no signs of life, their charcoal bare branches beaten by the sun. Blackened blisters pierce the skin of the land, consuming all life like a cancer. Each step closer becomes darker, warmer, engulfing the body and the senses. Ahead a single entry, within its walls time is silent in darkness. I have not yearned for so long to see life again”.

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, high-level 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 sites remain undisturbed for the duration of the waste’s decay process.

The chosen Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) for this project is in the Chiuahuan Desert, 26 miles outside Carlsbad, New Mexico. The design response required the protection of the nuclear waste site for a minimum of 10,000 years, while considering future generations may be further developed or possibly less developed than our current generation. It asks the question, how do we design architecture with a message that could endure for millennia?