Fake Chalets
July 19, 2016 1:54 PM   Subscribe

 
Wow!
posted by Going To Maine at 2:03 PM on July 19, 2016 [1 favorite]


Top rentals on Airbnb's new Military Fetishist category!
posted by Abehammerb Lincoln at 2:20 PM on July 19, 2016 [4 favorites]


I looooooooove stuff like this. Thank you!
posted by mykescipark at 2:21 PM on July 19, 2016 [1 favorite]


As a former infantryman, fuuuuuuck, those would be hard to identify and approach. Scouts are gonna have a bad time.
posted by Abehammerb Lincoln at 2:21 PM on July 19, 2016 [2 favorites]


Mentioned in the article, but without pictures: The Toblerone Line.
posted by effbot at 2:31 PM on July 19, 2016 [2 favorites]


Fan palms in Switzerland!?
posted by Stonestock Relentless at 2:57 PM on July 19, 2016 [1 favorite]


John McPhee had a book some years ago about the disguised and entrenched Swiss defense structures. Included were hidden hatches in bridges for demolition charges, mountain sides ready to be brought down on roads and rails, and deep tunnels with hospitals, armaments, and supplies.

Many of the underground structures have been passed on to civilian use, but not all of them.
posted by Midnight Skulker at 2:58 PM on July 19, 2016 [5 favorites]


The Toblerone Line sounds like the final defensive barrier stopping the Risk pieces from invading Candy Land.
posted by Abehammerb Lincoln at 3:18 PM on July 19, 2016 [23 favorites]


hidden hatches in bridges for demolition charges

With the charges in place, even. More fun that way :-)
posted by effbot at 3:21 PM on July 19, 2016 [3 favorites]


In Canada the fake Swiss Chalets sell rotisserie chicken to seniors (and me).
posted by srboisvert at 3:31 PM on July 19, 2016 [5 favorites]


Fan palms in Switzerland!?

Southern part is a bit mediterranean. There's even a Palm Express bus route that takes you from the alps to Lugano.
posted by effbot at 3:37 PM on July 19, 2016


In Canada the fake Swiss Chalets sell rotisserie chicken to seniors (and me).

If you want rotisserie chicken in Switzerland, you look for a truck with a big grilled chicken on top :-)
posted by effbot at 3:44 PM on July 19, 2016 [3 favorites]


I lived in Lausanne for a year when I was in high school. My family had an apartment in a newish, fairly expensive highrise building, one of a set of four or five built along Radiant City lines at the top of one of the hills behind the Cité, just to the west of La Signal, the highest hill in the city.

One day, bored in the teenage manner, I was aimlessly poking around in the basement of our building, where our family's modest storage area was. I had noticed, mysteriously, that the stairs that led down to this lowest level appeared to continue down, but that the stairwell was not illuminated. I figured maybe there was another floor of parking or something.

I went down the stairs, and as I did so, motion sensors illuminated it. I kept going down, surprised that there seemed to be more than one or two levels that the stairs serviced.

Eventually I got bored again and decided to open one of the stairwell exit doors to see the parking garage. I opened the door into a VERY large large, echoing interior space. which also had motion sensor lights. it was a finished, painted space, not primarily intended for vehicles, with industrial facility floor tiling like a hospital or school. It seemed to be a corridor large enough for large equipment to be moved through, higher ceilings than the rest of the building that I knew and wide enough for two semis to drive in opposite directions.

High on the walls were fallout shelter signs, and close to the stair was a group of steel storage drums. I wandered around and found other rooms, some locked doors, and eventually realized I did not know how to get back to the stairs. I tried my best to make it back to the corridor and eventually found the stairs. I headed up and eventually found the conventionally lighted section of the stairs. I exited into the lobby of our building.

But something didn't seem right. The layout was reversed. I had actually traveled aome distance in the emergency shelter subbasement and emerged in a different building's lobby. The entire building complex above ground, I think, represented less than half the actual size of the structure. I never did find the actual bottom floor of the subbasements. Who knows what they were storing down there beyond emergency rations.

After that I started noticing newer buildings throughout the city. I highly doubt any given new construction apartment complex or office building was required to have massive fallout shelters in the basement in order to meet code, but I did not doubt that the civil infrastructure held many, very expensive, surprises.
posted by mwhybark at 4:03 PM on July 19, 2016 [53 favorites]


I was working with some people at the University of Zürich, and their central library is shared with the Canton library. Most of it is 6 stories underground in a Cold War era bunker. Each floor has huge doors with rotting rubber seals permanently propped open. There were an amazing number of books, but I had the feeling of being sealed underground.
posted by GenjiandProust at 4:04 PM on July 19, 2016 [3 favorites]


With the charges in place, even. More fun that way

I heard that it's typical for the engineers who design the structures to design and implement the means of destroying them as part of their national service.
posted by acb at 4:07 PM on July 19, 2016 [1 favorite]


Super cool!
posted by Bugbread at 4:33 PM on July 19, 2016


They're like reverse TARDISes: smaller on the inside.
posted by XMLicious at 6:15 PM on July 19, 2016 [1 favorite]


John McPhee had a book some years ago about the disguised and entrenched Swiss defense structures. Included were hidden hatches in bridges for demolition charges, mountain sides ready to be brought down on roads and rails, and deep tunnels with hospitals, armaments, and supplies.


La Place De La Concorde Suisse. Like all of McPhee's books a great read. Wine and cheese are apparently a big part of rations when the reserves are out on maneuvers.
posted by TedW at 6:49 PM on July 19, 2016 [3 favorites]


Each floor has huge doors with rotting rubber seals permanently propped open.

These blast doors were in my underground space too, sliding doors on wheels that could be dogged shut.
posted by mwhybark at 6:58 PM on July 19, 2016


I have to read that McPhee book! Lausanne is the capitol of Vaud, and in order for it to be released for review in the NYT in 1984, he would have had to have been there researching the book while I was living there.

At the very end of my time in the country, in the middle of a huge municipal festival celebrating (I think) 500 years of La Cité's existence (the old fortified quarter of Lausanne), in a festive crowd, I heard shots and screams, and the crowd parted to reveal a young man holding his gut.

It was hard for me to follow the news after I left, but as I understand it, an elderly fellow had brought his Army-issue service pistol to the festival out of old-man paranoia and eventually felt threatened by the offensive antics of the young man and his pals, members of a martial-arts club and consequently shot the kid, killing him.
posted by mwhybark at 7:05 PM on July 19, 2016 [1 favorite]


Love this, thank you for posting it!
posted by hilaryjade at 7:16 PM on July 19, 2016 [1 favorite]


> subbasements

good place for a radiation-counting random number generator: "located three floors down in a converted 70,000 litre subterranean water cistern with metre-thick concrete walls".
posted by morganw at 9:47 PM on July 19, 2016


Switzerland's older apartment buildings all include compulsory underground bunkers (brought into law in 1963). Ours is two levels underground and includes the thick metal doors and hatches. It's subdivided into storage space for renters. One of my friends lives in a 3-storey house built in the 1960s and it has a very scary bunker next to the basement laundry room. You would *not* want to shut the door in there unless you had to.

Every Gemeinde (not quite a suburb; more like the French commune) has a community bunker, which might be what mwhybark's apartment building had. The community bunkers are being used in some cities in Switzerland as refugee/asylum centres. It could also have been a Zeughauskeller (underground armory) but weird to have it in an apartment building.

I'm just relieved that our stairs don't go any deeper, since I happen to have a curious teenager.
posted by tracicle at 11:04 PM on July 19, 2016 [2 favorites]




Wine and cheese are apparently a big part of rations when the reserves are out on maneuvers.

Wine also comes in handy when you accidentally invade neighbouring countries (or in this case, light it on fire during weapons testing).
posted by effbot at 2:28 AM on July 20, 2016


Came to fly the McPhee flag. Was not disappointed.
posted by whuppy at 6:00 AM on July 20, 2016


Just a few weeks ago I took a tour of Fortress Furigen near Luzern. Looks like a mountain side, but it actually contains an artillery battery from WW2. Fascinating stuff, especially the stories of the level of secrecy involved. Men would train there for 6 weeks at a time and the locals had no idea they were there.

It was also interesting that these installations, and there are several hundred WW2 era bunkers throughout the country, were designed & built in 18 months.
posted by jeporter99 at 6:32 AM on July 20, 2016


The Hidden Airforce (2014)

In case of nuclear war the Swiss have bunkers capable of fitting 100% of country’s population – it is the only (paranoid enough) country to be capable of doing that.
Swiss highways can be converted into runways by quickly removing the grade separations in between the lanes. Switzerland also has ad-hoc airbases with hangars carved out of the mountains.
...
Switzerland has a national building code that requires every home to either have a bunker or pay into a fund to maintain community bunkers – so every Swiss Citizen has quick access to a shelter.
...
The Swiss maintains a small air force. That wasn’t always like that, it once had a huge Vampire and Venom fleet, with only the married pilots having ejection seats....While small, the Swiss Air Force is also very secretive. Along side their (countless) mountain air bases are hardened tunnels drilled into the mountains – where the fighter jets are being kept. If enemy pilots would be flying overhead, all they would see is taxiways disappearing into the mountains....The Swiss Air Force also has highways parts that can be converted into landing/takeoff runways by quickly removing the grade separations...


Meiringen Airbase, rendering, runways, exterior, F-5s in a cavern/hangar interior. F-5 flightline. F-18s returning to the hangar.

A mountain village scene. Hornets on the highway, and a Tiger on the bridge. Taxiing. Takeoff (I think, maybe landing). Trimming fenceposts.
posted by snuffleupagus at 7:07 AM on July 20, 2016 [5 favorites]


I think the McPhee book must have been a New Yorker article first, because I remember reading there about the secret fortifications. The bit that stuck (apart from watching airplanes fly into mountains -- not in the crash sense) was him mentioning you'd sometimes be walking in the woods, and find a clearing that was not quite right, a bit unnatural. And eventually you'd figure out it was a clear-fire zone for remote-operated guns.
posted by tavella at 12:02 PM on July 20, 2016


What happened to the shooter, mwhybark?
posted by tavella at 12:12 PM on July 20, 2016


As I understand it, he was convicted for murder. It was something of a national news event, but seems to be in a black hole with regard to locating contemporary news coverage in online archives, probably not helped by my rusty French in search.
posted by mwhybark at 10:34 PM on July 20, 2016 [2 favorites]


I think the McPhee book must have been a New Yorker article first

Correct - Part one. Part two.
posted by mwhybark at 8:22 PM on July 21, 2016 [1 favorite]


This is great! A couple of related imgur galleries: A Rare Peek into a Swiss World War 2-Era Bunker, and Fake swiss chalet. In the comments of the second gallery, someone links to this video of "Interlaken and Swiss Military Secrets" (info about military fortresses begins at 1:04).
posted by taz at 5:46 AM on July 22, 2016 [1 favorite]



Picked up the McPhee book for a buck on Amazon. It is fantastic. One of the guys in the Army unit he's embedded with is a vintner from Vaud, another guy works as a gardener in a historic building in Vevey. I can taste the flinty dry wine in my head, smell the Swiss summer. How amazing to find a book at fifty written specifically about where you were at sixteen. How wonderful that it's by this guy. His use of language is a source of wonder and delight. It occasionally produces hallucinatory sensations when he unblinkingly incorporates French into his English sentences, a thing I still do today in my voix de tete.
posted by mwhybark at 4:56 PM on August 2, 2016 [1 favorite]


The vintner guy is from Epesses. I have indelible memories of spending a couple afternoons there with my dad, going from cave to cave tasting wine and eating sausage. Vaudois white is the actual center of my palate, the object against which all other wine is measured. I wonder if their product was among our samples.
posted by mwhybark at 5:05 PM on August 2, 2016


He has a Facebook page. Good god, the future, sometimes I love you.
posted by mwhybark at 5:10 PM on August 2, 2016


Last update: my mom was able to locate and scan photos of our family visit to Epesses as well as the labels of the wine they came home with. One of the caveaux I recall? Luc Massy's. The book is not just set in a place and time that intersects with my life, one of the protagonists is someone I have met, and it is nearly certain that it is his specific wines to which I give pride of place in my palette.

This thread! I thank you for it!
posted by mwhybark at 10:46 AM on August 7, 2016 [3 favorites]


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