Radical Architecture for the End of the World

Kees van Leeuwen

2 November 2023 - 13 January 2024

Thousands of people are currently searching for a safe shelter that is not available. Artist Kees van Leeuwen has spent years researching bunkers that were built to protect people during the Cold War. These turned out to be completely unnecessary in the Netherlands, but they offer a fascinating insight into what the threat can do to a society.

Kees van Leeuwen is fascinated by the radical architecture of these constructions. The most extreme conditions were taken into account: how to design a structure that could withstand an atom bomb; what you need to survive weeks underground; and how to explain to people what measures they need to take.

The exhibition shows various aspects of a situation that determined the world order for decades. On display are brochures with information and instructions, highlighting the dangers and telling people how they could protect themselves. A large map shows where you could find shelter in Rotterdam at the time. The city was very well endowed with public shelters that could accommodate a total of almost 45,000 people. The design and character of these minimalist spaces are explored through floor plans, models and a fictional bunker made specially for the exhibition, letting you feel the stifling atmosphere inside a shelter.

Design & compilation:

Kees van Leeuwen, Pieter Kuster & Emine Yilmazgil


Ulli Baisch, Jurgen van der Vlies, Daphne Alessie, Chelsey Amelo


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