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radioactief afval, a conversation piece

Nuclear Sitdown

Every day the volume of a two-and-a-half-seater of radioactive waste is made in the Netherlands. A conversation piece about tangible waste.

Experience shows how difficult it is to discuss radioactive waste. The heated climate change debate proves an obstacle, which we intend to diminish. The design of the Nuclear Sitdown has been established in collaboration with COVRA, an object that discusses radioactive waste, the industry, and applications in the Netherlands.

Radioactive waste in the Netherlands originates, apart from Nuclear energy, from several other applications. The eight different segments of the sofa represent the origin of the waste, containing the medical sector, oil, gas, and research. A consideration is to be made between the application and resulting waste, the central issue presented in the design.

The Nuclear Sitdown has been exhibited at the Dutch Design Week 2019 and can currently be admired at Urenco in Almelo.

get a feeling for the waste

exploration and reflection

It’s difficult to discuss radioactive waste; the topic is technical, complicated, and hidden from sight. Our research however shows how that doesn’t stop people from being opinionated. When the possibility of new nuclear power plants in the Netherlands is rising, the polarised and encumbered landscape makes it hard to form a nuanced opinion.

The Nuclear Sitdown offers a solution. It encourages people to explore the theme in a tangible and insightful way. The sofa provides an overview of the different radioactive applications in the Netherlands, which almost always leads to a personal question. What do I think of nuclear waste? The personal connection is further incorporated by offering a moment of reflection on the couch.

The intervention took place at the Dutch Design Week 2019 and allowed us to engage in conversation with the audience.

radioactive design

One of the goals of the project is to expose radioactive waste to the public. The waste is normally transported towards Zeeland, where it is stored and kept by COVRA (the central organization radioactive waste). Once on location, the low and mid radioactive waste is minimized in order to be cast into concrete. This concrete specifically served as a starting point for the design of the sofa.

Radioactive material has a special property; it decays. After the passing of time, the radiating particles will decay into more stable ones, which no longer radiate and pose a danger. For safe storage in Zeeland, the new waste is sometimes enveloped by an extra shell, which later on becomes obsolete. To get the spectators of the intervention as close to the waste as possible, this protection, concrete shells of approx. 15cms thick have been reused in the fresh concrete of the sofa.

As an approximation of the end results, the experience is digitized below.  Want to know more about radioactive waste? Check the COVRA-website.

Anker 1

radioactive waste in 3D

eight categories to sit on

photography: tom janssen
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