How to recycle 750.000 bunkers from the war
We are in Albania, 1967. The communist dictator Enver Hoxha, obsessed with the danger of an imminent bombing to all his nation, starts a perturbing project: the construction of 750.000 bunkers made of concrete for a population that at this time is not even two million of people.
Flash forward. Albania, 2012. Enver Hoxha is not here anymore; the bombing he was expecting didn’t happened and most of the structures created while Hoxha’s days of glory are in their right places, as testimonials of a not-nice-to-remember past.
From here is born the idea of two Albanian students, Elian Stefa and Gyler Mydyti, called “Concrete Mushrooms”: recycle the concrete bunkers transforming them into small workshops and business.
To be precise, the project started with the construction of an arts center, a tattoo shop and a few clubs, and then continued with storage facilities, hostels, the shop of a shoemaker and a variety of restaurants.
The success of this initiative is also witnessed with the edition of the book “Mushrooms of concrete. The reuse of 750,000 Albanians abandoned bunker”. In fact, encouraging the re-use of these spaces has given a new life to these facilities unused and has aroused the curiosity of tourists. Currently, there are three types of bunkers: small, medium and large. The book created to illustrate the phenomenon is a kind of manual for turning one: tips, practical models, details and prices of the interventions serve to give an idea of how citizens can act. For example, the transformation of a triple bunker would require an expenditure of only € 150.
The project has another added value that goes beyond recycling and reuse: transforming the bunkers into places for such activities means finally eradicate the feelings of pain, fear and death associated with these structures, and that for years have represented the dictatorship of Hoxha. “Concrete Mushrooms” is a way to tell people that if they want, they can win the tragedies of the past with creativity and desire to move forward. A truth of which we should all be aware!
Images credits: Some of the transformed bunkers.