Illustration for article titled A Gorgeous Monument to Radioactive Decay

What do you do when you have a barn-sized pile of nuclear waste materials that you have to store for 100 years while it loses its toxicity? In the Netherlands, the answer was to stick it inside a giant art project: specifically, this orange building called the Habog Facility, covered in physics formulas by Einstein and Planck. Every twenty years, the building will be repainted in a lighter color to symbolize the slowly decaying radiation in the waste.


The waste in the building comes from two different nuclear reactors. Under local law, it must be stored for 100 years. William Verstraeten, the artist who designed the facility, views his piece as a commentary on metaphorphosis. Open for tours, the building also contains four symbolic paintings. According to World Nuclear News:

The theme of decay is extended to the inside of the facility, where four large pictures hang. They all feature the same local natural scene, but occur in a sequence in which base colours are removed one by one. The final two-tone image is printed on gold leaf, to introduce the idea that the waste has more value after its radioactivity has decayed.


The building won an art award earlier this year.

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