Rolling out of a hangar on the former Soesterberg Air Base in Utrecht, The Netherlands, is a black, angular shape that looks like a stealth hermit crab crossed with an airport waiting lounge. This combination of mobile sculpture and laboratory, called Secret Operation 610, was unveiled on September 13 as part of the Festival de Basis. It was built in collaboration by Rietveld Landscape, Studio Frank Havermans, and Koos Schaart over an 18-year period.
The home of Secret Operation 610 is a former NATO base. Where the air once split to the roar of US Air Force interceptors, there is now only silence as most of the 380-acre site is allowed to go back to nature. But part of it is being redeveloped as the site of the new Nationaal Militair Museum, set to open next year.
Housed in a hangar once reserved for Phantoms and F-15s, Secret Operation 610 is self-propelled on caterpillar treads. It’s meant to invoke the atmosphere of fear and tension of the Cold War as it rolls around on the 4 km (2.4 mi) runway to provide visitors with different views of it in the landscape. Inside there’s seating for 12 people.
The building, or vehicle, or mobile sculpture, or death machine or whatever it is, along with its hangar, are currently used as classrooms by students from the Delft University of Technology for developing flight technology that is silent and carbon-free.