The hottest real estate in Switzerland right now might well be the country's estimated 261,418 bomb shelters. Ever since the cold war, the Swiss have been required either to have a bomb shelter in their homes or to pay roughly $900 for a place in a communal bunker. (The 1962 law states: "For every Swiss, a shelter.") Over the years, as fears over nuclear attacks faded, these shelters have morphed into storage closets, wine cellars, saunas, bars, bowling alleys and at least in one case a massive pizza oven.
But now Swiss authorities are urging the country's 7.2 million residents to convert these spaces back into actual bomb shelters complete with a 14-day supply of bottled water and canned food. And certainly, the design requirements of these structures should reassure anyone concerned about the threat of terrorism.
The official shelter's walls, ceiling and floors are made of steel-reinforced concrete, the armored door is 30 cm thick, there's a small escape hatch with its own metal door and double-latch lock, and the shelter comes with two filtration devices: one designed to screen out biological and chemical substances and another to suck in fresh air.
Recently, there was talk of introducing a new, less strict shelter law. But Kurt Grimm, an engineer with the Federal Office for Civil Protection, says the U.S. terror attacks shed a new light on the need for shelters. Says Grimm: "This made us realize that the times when we may need these bunkers may be here again."