A former coal mine in Belgium has been reborn as a modernist community space, with high schools, movie theatres and hiking tracks taking the place of old mining infrastructure.
The Winterslag mine in Genk, on the border of Belgium and Germany, was built in 1917 and operated until 1988.
Since then the site – including processing facilities, factories, and even the underground tunnelling system – have been revitalised, transforming the mine site into a space to be enjoyed by the local community called C-mine.
Gizmodo reports that the site now hosts a movie complex, a high school, with the former slag heap turned into a hiking area. But the work has not stopped there.
The mine’s old ventilation shaft has been transformed into an “experience space,” where people can explore a maze of underground tunnels and climb to the top of the 180-foot-tall ventilation tower into an observation deck.
Visitors say the C-Mine Expedition does not follow a set path.
“It takes visitors through a range of different disorienting spaces, starting with an archive that carries out the memory of the mine-industry,” the architects said.
These are said to include ‘atmospheric spaces” where sounds and images of the mine's formers life fill the air, as well as mine-specific art installations.
The ‘unusual creative space’ of the C-Mine is becoming a burgeoning tourist attraction for the town, with thousands of people visiting the space each year.
The vision shown at Winterslag is proof that old mines can be turned into something useful, educational and creative for people to use as a commodity once the resources have all been dug up, and so begs the question: How long will we have to wait to see something similarly innovative developed in Australia?