The anticipatory space of the bunker, modernity’s dark mirror

Gary Boyd, Denis Linehan

    Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review


    The buried and semi-buried bunker, bulwark since the early eighteenth century against increasingly sophisticated forms of ordnance, emerged in increasing number in Europe throughout the twentieth century across a series of scales from the household Anderson shelter to the vast infrastructural works of the Maginot and Siegfried lines, or the Atlantic Wall. Its latest proliferation took place during the Cold War. From these perspectives, it is as emblematic of modernity as the department store, the great exhibition, the skyscraper or the machine-inspired domestic space advocated by Le Corbusier. It also represents the obverse, or perhaps a parodic iteration, of the preoccupations of early architectural modernism: a vast underground international style, cast in millions of tons of thick, reinforced concrete retaining walls, whose spatial relationship to the landscape above was strictly mediated through the periscope, the loop-hole, the range finder and the strategic necessity to both resist and facilitate the technologies and scopic regimes of weaponry. Embarking from Bunker Archaeology, this paper critically uncoils Paul Virillo’s observation, that once physically eclipsed in its topographical and technical settings, the bunker’s efficacy would mutate to other domains, retaining and remaking its meaning in another topology during the Cold War. ‘The essence of the new fortress’ he writes ‘is elsewhere, underfoot, invisible from here on in’. Shaped by this impulse, this paper seeks to render visible the bunker’s significance in a wider milieu and, in doing so, excavate some of the relationships between the physical artefact, its implications and its enduring metaphorical and perceptual ghosts.
    Original languageEnglish
    Publication statusPublished - 09 Jul 2015
    EventInternational Conference of Historical Geographers 2015 - London, United Kingdom
    Duration: 05 Jul 201510 Jul 2015


    ConferenceInternational Conference of Historical Geographers 2015
    CountryUnited Kingdom

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