Graduate 2016: A repository for Danish nuclear waste

Education and students

What do we do with radioactive waste? People have been asking this question for years. The architect, Peter Friberg Ravnborg has come up with a possible answer in his graduation project. He proposes a solution, in which radioactive waste from the Risø Research Centre can be stored in a way that simultaneously injects added value to the surroundings.

What is your graduation project about?

My graduation project deals with the disposal problem related to Danish nuclear waste created during the operation and decommissioning of the Risø Research Centre.

The issue is highly topical, since the current storage of the waste at Risø is highly inappropriate. Due to the condition of the concrete drums, which encase the radioactive waste, within a very short space of time (five years at the most), a decision needs to be taken about management of the waste.

The problem must be resolved with a depot: a building complex to house and encase our radioactive waste for the next several generations. The depot would be a unique edifice, whose distinctive and mysterious function would generate a great deal of debate.

My graduation project tackles the challenge and comes up with a concrete idea of how the disposal can be incorporated into a larger societal context. Storage of radioactive substances is a global problem that is associated with strong feelings. By looking at the issue from an architectural point of view, I hope that the work could be a monument that gave something back to its surroundings: in other words, providing a positive return in the shape of landscape and the dissemination of the subject of decommissioning, attracting people out into the beautiful countryside surrounding it – instead of being a burden on society!

Repository, containers

What would your graduation project mean for society, if it were realised?

Realisation of the project would turn a taboo social problem into an attraction, and a monument to show that a Danish model for an intermediate storage facility is the result of interaction between people and nature. Denmark has never deployed nuclear energy as part of the energy supply and therefore has only a small amount of waste. Consequently, it is the perfect place to initiate discussion about a modern vision of disposal. The problem is global and, even though the scale is different, the project’s ideas would have global relevance.

I think it is important for architects to dare to tackle tasks such as this! The task involves a large number of practical, structural and engineering challenges, but it is an issue that also has a substantial poetic dimension.

What is your strength as an architect?

I am very interested in telling stories through sketches, drawings and visualisations across analogue and digital media. A project can achieve great depth, if it is communicated strongly and accurately!

Where do you see yourself in five years’ time?

In the near future, I see myself in a Danish design practice.

Cut, repository