The post-apocalyptic seed vault – or “international doomsday vault” – now under construction on the Arctic island of Spitsbergen can be counted upon perhaps not to save global agriculture but to pop up now and again on the internet for years to come; it’s been on BLDGBLOG twice already – and I have a feeling we’re only going to hear more about this thing.
And for good reason: it’s fascinating.
But now we actually have a photograph of the vault’s interior.
[Image: Mari Tefre for Getty Images, via the Guardian].
So what’s the vault? As the Guardian says:
Engineers last week finished work on one of the world’s most ambitious conservation projects: a doomsday vault carved into a frozen mountainside in the archipelago of Svalbard, a few hundred miles from the North Pole.
Over the next few weeks, the huge cavern – backed by the Norwegian government and the Gates Foundation – will be filled with more than a million types of seed and will be officially opened in February next year.
“This will be the last refuge for the world’s crops,” said Cary Fowler, of the Rome-based Global Crop Diversity Trust, which is building the vault. “There are seed banks in various countries round the globe, but several have been destroyed or badly damaged in recent years. We need a place that is politically and environmentally safe if we are going to feed the planet as it gets hotter.”
And the inside of the vault may look cold now, but “engineers are scheduled over the next few weeks to use refrigerating equipment to cool the vault to around minus 18 degrees. Then it will be ready for its seeds, say scientists.”
Perhaps those engineers can combine all this with the ice wall and build a whole new architecture of frozen vaults in the earth’s surface, domed labyrinths beneath the snow.
In 225 years a group of climate change survivors, sunburnt and half-mad with starvation, will flee the intolerably tropical temperatures that now extend as far north as Oslo and literally stumble upon the place, slipping into a crevasse and knocking up against the rusting door of a long-forgotten vault.
It takes only a few hours to hack open the door – and then they’ll cautiously walk inside…