Ever thought where baddies of Bond plan their quest for world domination? Here is a selection of conceivably villainous real estate from all over the world to tickle any megalomaniac’s fancy.
This coal mine in the Belgian town of Cheratte has all the amenities a Bond blackguard needs.
The notorious urban ruin has three castle-like winding towers presiding over four disused mine shafts – the deepest of which is 480m – where enormous extraction devices lurk within. The main tower is designed in a neo-gothic medieval style and modelled after Malakoff Tower in Cologne. This tower contains the remnants of Belgium’s very first electrical headframe, which could haul loads of coal up from a depth of 170m. Within the Cheratte are multi-platformed catwalks and staircases; these lead to elevated corridors and crumbling former offices that provided the admin for 1,500 workers.
Currently the subject of a possible conversion project, there are plans to demolish more hazardous parts after which the protected site will be up for grabs.
Augarten Flak Tower
Built by Adolf Hitler, there are three pairs of flak towers in Vienna that were used to protect the dictator’s ‘pearl’ from incoming Allied bombers.
All but one of them has been appropriated by the city for ‘adaptive reuse’. Located over a peaceful park is the gloomy Augarten ‘flakturm VII’ – a 16-sided, 51m high monolith, which like its now-occupied brethren was designed by Autobahnen architect Friedrich Tamms. Constructed from 2.5m thick, steel-reinforced concrete with equally sturdy floors, the anti-aircraft battlement is also decked with projecting balconies designed to support heavy artillery.
Not that one would require external armaments – when post-war Soviets had a go they only managed to inflict a small crack. Centrally placed, virtually indestructible and built to house 10,000 people, the Augarten flakturm is the ideal location from which to launch a quest for world domination.
Maunsell Sea Forts
Those seeking an offshore base to inflict destruction upon the rest of the world need look no further than the Thames Estuary in the UK, where seven nautical bastions dating from the Second World War reside.
Designed by civil engineer Guy Maunsell, these rusty hulks, otherwise known as the Red Sands fort, formed part of a series of forts erected as a foil for the German Navy’s laying of magnetic influence mines. The hulking gun towers could shoot down Nazi aircraft, ships and doodlebugs. Constructed at Gravesend, the 4,000-tonne forts were towed out and sunk into position with their crew on board, seven miles (11km) off the coast of Whitstable in Kent.
Air-conditioned and centrally heated, each reinforced concrete tower was linked by tubular steel catwalks and could accommodate 60 men, sleeping 15 to a room.
Some 70 years later, aside from a small amount of usage by the SAS for simulated oil rig assault training and a few pirate radio stations, they remain largely unchanged.
The House-Monument of the Bulgarian Communist Party
Perched on one of the most inhospitable peaks of the Balkan Mountains at an altitude of 1,441m above sea level, this colossal concrete saucer was once imagined as a symbolic meeting place for Bulgaria’s Communist regime.
Designed by the architect Georgi Stoilov, its construction in the late 1970s cost in excess of 16 million Bulgarian Levs – around £7m – the majority of which came from ‘suggested donations’ collected from the Bulgarian people. Its improbable price tag was partly due to the thousands of ‘volunteers’ who were drafted in to build it and the 60-or-so Bulgarian artists who collaborated on the design of its many murals in the 107m-high cavernous conference hall.
The state took control of the monument in 1991, two years after the old political regime collapsed, and it soon fell into disrepair. Recently the monument has been handed back to the Bulgarian Socialist Party, whose members are currently contemplating just by what means it might restore the site back to its former glory.
As far as potentially villainous HQs go, a floating industrial city in the middle of the Caspian Sea is pretty hard to beat.
Neft Daslari, a real-life mega-oil rig floating off the coast of Azerbaijan, was built in 1949 atop a trove of top-quality black gold. Decades later it had morphed into a multi-limbed timber and steel megatropolis – the foundation of which comprised seven sunken ships including the Swedish-built, first-ever oil tanker Zoroaster. In its heyday the settlement housed 2,000 drilling platforms – which over a 60-year period spewed up over 150 million tonnes of oil and 15 billion m3 of natural gas. Linked by a network of roads and trestle-bridges spanning 300km, workers lived on-site in nine-storey apartment blocks and enjoyed amenities such as a beer factory, library, 300-seater cinema and a bakery.
These days the Azerbaijan government is reluctant to demolish its former empire and is actively seeking an investor.
Teufelsberg Listening Station
If hiding in plain sight is your thing then a giant station perched atop the highest point in Berlin could be perfect for your villainous deeds.
The geodesic erection known as the Teufelsberg Listening Station is built on half-a-million-houses-worth of rubble dumped over a Nazi military training school by the Allies in their clean up after the Second World War. The military college was impossible to destroy, so they covered it with about 12 million cubic metres of war rubble. In the 1950s, when eavesdropping on East Germany and Russia was required during the Cold War, said Allies realised that their ‘Devil’s Mountain’ afforded the best reception in the city and built probably the most obvious spy station on the planet.
Three huge radomes are perched on several-storey-high buildings and each weatherproof enclosure contained 12m satellite dishes and sophisticated spying equipment – manned largely by staff from the US National Security Agency and British Government Communications Headquarters. They could pick up satellite signals, microwave links and radio waves and analyse their findings.
After the reunification of Germany, intelligence agencies bailed and apart from a few unfulfilled development plans, the 4.7ha field station has remained abandoned – featuring only as the centrepiece in a handful of amateur photographs.
Texas Superconducting Super Collider
Originally commissioned in 1983, the proposed 40TeV Texas Superconducting Super Collider (SSC) would have easily dwarfed CERN’s 14TeV Higgs-boson-discovering cathedral.
At a projected construction cost of $6bn, the SSC would have sprawled over 6,475ha, underpinned by a tunnel four metres in diameter and 87km in circumference. As well as offices and labs, there would have been two subterranean facilities housing particle detectors weighing as much as your average battleship. However in 1993, after 17 shafts had been sunk and 22km of the tunnel was bored, US Congress pulled the plug on funding for political reasons.The projected budget had already rocketed to over $10bn and despite a shut-down cost of a further billion the SSC was ditched.
Potential development ideas for the abandoned super-collider included hospitals tapping into the SSC linear accelerator as a source for proton cancer therapy, and the Federal government converting it into an anti-terrorism training facility.
The colossal estate is currently part-occupied by ‘custom’ chemicals manufacturer Magnablend. No doubt an arch villain could make something of that.