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A design for the Terra Vivos 8 underground shelter. Terra Vivos
Home Sweet Home

Deeper underground: could you live in a bunker?

Missile silos and Nazi bunkers have been converted into habitable homes, while other designers are focused on preparing shelters for surviving catastrophes.

MAYAN PROPHESISES of doom, global warming, chemical weapons – there are all kinds of reasons why someone might want the reassurance of several tonnes of concrete reinforcement around their home.

But could you actually live in an underground bunker?

One US couple has made an entire career out of selling former US missile silos and bunkers as residential properties; some of the overground buildings atop the labyrinthine bunkers are already modified for family life, while others are on the market in close to original condition (minus the army gear and munitions).

Silo sellers Ed and Dianne Peden live in one of the modified bunkers themselves – interior and exterior photos of their Kansas home can be seen in the slideshow below.

Deeper underground: could you live in a bunker?
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  • 1. Home Sweet Home

    Ed Peden standing in the tunnel leading to the front door of his family home. (20th Century Castles)
  • 2. Home Sweet Home

    The former silo converted by the Pedens into their family home. (Image: 20th Century Castles)
  • 3. Home Sweet Home

    Sections of the Pedens' house are lit using natural light. (Image: 20th Century Castles)
  • 4. Home Sweet Home

    An exterior shot of the silo-turned-home where the Pedens live in Kansas. (Image: 20th Century Castles)
  • 5. Home Sweet Home

    One of the former bunker sites converted by architects Rainer Mielke and Claus Freudenberg. (Image:
  • 6. Home Sweet Home

    One of the former bunker sites converted by architects Rainer Mielke and Claus Freudenberg. (Image:
  • 7. Home Sweet Home

    One of the former bunker sites converted by architects Rainer Mielke and Claus Freudenberg. (Image:
  • 8. Home Sweet Home

    One of the former bunker sites converted by architects Rainer Mielke and Claus Freudenberg. (Image:
  • 9. Home Sweet Home

    One of the former bunker sites converted by architects Rainer Mielke and Claus Freudenberg. (Image:
  • 10. Home Sweet Home

    A plan for one of the available from Vivos. This one (the Vivos 8) accommodates up to eight people. (Image: The Vivos Group)
  • 11. Home Sweet Home

    The fitted kitchen in a plan for the Vivos 8 underground shelter. (Image: The Vivos Group)
  • 12. Home Sweet Home

    The floor plan to the community shelter at Indiana. It has enough space for 80 people. (Image: The Vivos Group)
  • 13. Home Sweet Home

    One of the bedrooms inside the Vivos Indiana shelter. (Image: The Vivos Group)
  • 14. Home Sweet Home

    A communal seating area of the Vivos Indiana shelter. (Image: The Vivos Group)
  • 15. Home Sweet Home

    Cooking space in the Vivos Indiana shelter. (Image: The Vivos Group)

While modifying the property to their needs was challenging, the Pedens found clever ways of including regular homely features – like windows. Back-lit stained glass windows and hanging curtains over closets give the impression that the property is fully above ground. Part of their home does have natural light, though.

Two years ago, the BBC visited the Peden home and was given a tour of the premises:

(YouTube credit: BBCWorldwide)

The Pedens run their 20th Century Castles property business from their former-silo home (and the aptly-named website They can be contacted on for videos of the properties currently on their books and are currently offering a number of discounts on former missile bases – though you’ll need deep pockets, as the prices start in the hundreds of thousands of dollars.


Bremen-based architects Rainer Mielke and Claus Freudenberg are building a reputation for converting Germany’s former WWII bunkers into interesting and habitable spaces.

According to their website, the architects find converting the former bunkers “an exciting challenge” and seek to preserve the identify of the historic structures while creating interesting architecture.

Miekle himself has been living in a converted bunker since 1999. He says one of the boons of working with the bunkers is that the architect doesn’t have to worry about dealing with supporting walls when it comes to planning the project. Although, it can be difficult to make holes in the reinforced walls for lighting and access.

He showed Deutsche Welle around his home:

(YouTube credit: deutschewelleenglish)

‘Noah’s Ark’

Looking for something that will behave more like a bunker than a house? California-based company Vivos offers a selection of shelters designed to serve as long-term underground survival shelters in the case of a major catastrophe.

Super volcanoes, solar flares, anarchy and biological warfare are just some of the potential threats the company lists on its site.

Time may now be very short. We believe the Earth is about to witness a series of man-made and natural catastrophes that will change life as we know it. These events will unfold throughout 2012, and the following few years. We are clearly living in dangerous and changing times that the uninformed will never understand until the threats are evident. Unfortunately, that will be too late for the unprepared masses.

Complete with high-grade nuclear, biological and chemical air filtration systems, Vivos says its shelters are designed to accommodate both small family groups and larger communities, with plans being scaled up depending on the space required.

The company ships the shelters by land or sea, and some of the smaller family units can be installed in less than two weeks – though the owner has to supply their own septic tank. The shelters come with an escape hatch, fitted kitchen, exercise equipment, an isolated engine room with airtight door, a diesel generator engine and a battery back-up system.

Prices for a fully-furnished Vivos 8, pictured in the slideshow above, start at $200,000, though the company recommends factoring in around $100,000 extra for other costs associated with installing and setting up the shelter.

Vivos is also building a ‘World War II-proof’ community shelter between Las Vegas and Los Angeles at a site the company says is “considered to be beyond the reach of virtually any tsunami, away from major earthquake faults, and ground-zero locations of major cities, or military complexes”.

It currently has spaces available at a community shelter in Indiana, priced at $50,000 per adult and $35,000 per child. The shelter has been completed and is designed to accommodate 80 people for at least one year of “autonomous survival”.

“The Indiana facility is far from any known nuclear targets, strategically away from the New Madrid fault line, the Mississippi River, and all oceans that might cause submersion as a result of a tsunami-type event,” the company says. “The site is also surrounded by excellent farming, fishing, hunting and water resources.”

Here’s a video tour of the Indiana shelter (and a quick run-down on a number of potential life-changing catastrophes):


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