Just south of Stockholm in Sweden, lies a renovated nuclear bunker called Pionen White Mountains. It was decommissioned nearly 20 years ago by Sweden’s Civil Defense, and at one point, it became the brief home of WikiLeaks.
Located 30 metres below ground, and shielded by half-a-metre-thick metal doors, Pionen was built to survive a hydrogen bomb.
Then Jon Karlung got hold of it, and it took more than two years to blast out the 43 000 cubic metres that Banhof, his Internet service provider, needed to house backup generators and server racks.
Says Karlung, who also says it smelled like a crypt when he renovated it six years ago:
It looked like something from childhood. With these ’70’s green and orange colours. It was like a time capsule that had not been renovated or changed since the 1970’s.
It’s been renovated to be a bit of a cross between a James Bond lair and the eco-pod-filled spaceships of the 1972 cult sci-fi film Silent Running.
It had this mood and it had this atmosphere that I liked. It captures this atmosphere of growing something from outer space.
But, as mentioned above, there is something more special about this place – it was briefly the most famous data centre in the world, and home to WikiLeaks.
And if you’re lucky enough to get your own tour of the data centre, you can see a decommissioned Dell PowerEdge web server, once used by WikiLeaks, on display at a Bahnhof bar (yes a real bar) in another of its Stockholm data centres. There’s still a second WikiLeaks server, a database system that’s offline in the Pionen data centre. Bahnhof says it has about 200 Gb of data onboard.
The facility is owned by the City of Stockholm, which had previously leased it out for the odd rave, art party, and even a wedding on one occasion.
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