Location: Demilitarized Zone ROK ñ DPRK (Korean Peninsula)
Context: In the aftermath of the armed escalation of the Korean Conflict, the front between North and South Korea froze along the 38th parallel. The armistice -in effect to this day- caused a fortification around the Military Demarcation Line set by the United Nations. The resolution made involved a demilitarization in the area within 2 kilometers facing either side of the MDL. The territory was mined, steel hedgehogs placed, and Anti-tank ditches and trenches set up around the heavily guarded border. An estimated 4.000.000 mines were laid, their location unrecorded. To better oversee the border, defoliants were sprayed around the 38th parallel, and its degenerating effects on plant-life and health are lingering on.
Project: The project addresses the problem of de-mining the DMZ and offers a proposal to contain the negative effects of the dioxin-contaminated ground (agent orange). Instead of defusing the mines, they are made to explode under the weight of a massive concrete slab, meters thick. Since the concrete cannot be poured onto the ground directly, since it would detonate the mines, a rebar structure is build and covered with prefabricated concrete slabs, which in turn provide a basis for the first concreting phase. In layers of different strength and grid-width the concrete shell is constructed. The only contact with the ground will be by a set of reenforced rebars radially aligned around the craters of artillery shells, resisting the load by skin friction. Within the craters the impact of the artillery shells will have obliterated the mines. The lateral load of the concrete structure is met with a fortified wall, the foundations of which are laid in the anti-tank ditches, and runs along the entire border on either end of the structure. Over a period of 16 years, the structure will be set up and the concreting phases alternate with rebar construction. To soften the impact of the exploding mines, buffers are fit within the shell, which will be filled with a liquid algae compound, and act as a buffer when the pressure waves hit. The dioxins set free by the explosions are filtered by the buffer and the algae mixture will decompose the toxic chemicals and render them innocuous. Once complete, the structure will start gliding downwards along the radially aligned rods around the buffer structure. Led by the soil-softening effects of the algae compound, the steel rods will pierce the ground and cause the entire structure to lower. Once the concrete slab comes in contact with the ground and the first mine detonates, the vibration caused by its explosion will further enhance the vertical gliding process and accelerate the descent of the structure. For 45 days every second a mine will explode and -like a funeral knell- set the rhythm for a 45-day-funeral march rendered by the unforgiving instruments of war. Eventually the explosions will cause the shell to crack and lose strength. The uppermost concrete layer holds empty chambers, which will be shattered by the pressure and allow for earth and humus to find a solid foundation ñ the basis for an autonomous natural regrowth.
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