Bunker Living

In what might be the most unique “apartment” living situation in the world, over one million people in China live in nuclear bunkers built during the Cold War era. From National Geographic:

In the late ’60s and ‘70s, anticipating the devastation of a Cold War-nuclear fallout, Chairman Mao directed Chinese cities to construct apartments with bomb shelters capable of withstanding the blast of a nuclear bomb. In Beijing alone, roughly 10,000 bunkers were promptly constructed.

But when China opened its door to the broader world in the early ’80s, Beijing’s defense department seized the opportunity to lease the shelters to private landlords, eager to profit from converting the erstwhile fallout hideaways into tiny residential units.

Now when night falls, more than a million people—mostly migrant workers and students from rural areas—vanish from Beijing’s bustling streets into the underground universe, little known to the world above…

Photo Source: National Geographic PHOTOGRAPH BY ANTONIO FACCILONGO

The living conditions in the bunkers are indeed harsh. Although they were built with electricity, plumbing and a sewage system in order to shelter people for months in wartime or fallout, the lack of proper ventilation makes the air stagnant and moldy. Residents share kitchens and restrooms that are often cramped and unsanitary.

Photo Source: National Geographic PHOTOGRAPH BY ANTONIO FACCILONGO