How an Old Mine Became a Inspiring Play Landscape
Article by Emily Sinclair – Play Landscape be-MINE, by Carve and Omgeving (design) and Krinkels (contractor) in the town of Beringen, Belgium.
Many of our society’s past practices have created scars in our landscape, such as post-industrial sites which are unusable due to contamination and dangerous conditions. Lately, these sites have become grounds for renewal; projects which revitalize and reinvent the site from a wasteland to a landmark – usually while keeping the historical context. One such site is the Play Landscape be-MINE, by Carve and Omgeving (design) and Krinkels (contractor) in the town of Beringen, Belgium.
The Play Landscape began with a competition set out by be-MINE, a tourism and recreation organization in Beringen. The town put forth the challenge to reimagine the rubble heap (or ‘terril’) created from the waste of old mining practices and redevelop the landscape in a way which adds an element of play, while still educating visitors on the history of the site. The winning entry, chosen in 2015, was the Play Landscape be-MINE, by Carve and Omgeving with Krinkels contractors.
Play Landscape be-MINE
When we explore the details of the project, we begin to see why it was deemed the most fitting, as it is pointedly making references to the previous land use and history of the town while encouraging people to scrabble and play along the way, up and down the side of the hill.
Moving Through the Play Landscape
The Play Landscape has three main parts to the design, which are revealed as you move through the landscape and up the rubble hill. The first part, the Pole Forest, is created using the sturdy poles which used to hold up the maze of mining shafts. The poles are set upright into the hill, pulling the gaze upwards, towards the top of the mountain.
This set up cleverly relates back to the movements up and down the mining shafts; the miners always thinking about heading up, back towards the light. In between the poles, the hammocks, nets and beams create the adventure play course.
The Prismatic play surface is next in the ascent. It is laid over the hill, prismatic-shaped play surfaces rise up and down between the pole forest. Ropes and climbing handholds dot the surface so that visitors can choose to take control of their ascent if they’d rather not take the flat pathway which runs up the hill.
The challenge is heightened by the route becoming narrower at the top of the hill and more scattered at the base. Adding to the experience are several tunnels and a long slide, all geared towards challenging people – especially children – physically and mentally, as the course gets harder as they move up the hill.
As adventurers reach the top of the mountain they are rewarded with the sight of the coal square. Sixty meters up, nestled into the mountain, the square is unseen before the summit has been achieved. Its sunken nature allows a reprieve from the harsh winds present at that altitude. Other character of the sunken square is the disappearance of the surrounding landscape, creating a true oasis, more than a rest stop on the top of a mountain.
The view outward is not the point of this platform; instead, the visitors are invited to browse the interpretive panels and immerse themselves in the mining history.
Recreation and Tourism
Pathways from the nearby Spurs Park bring people to the base of the mountain, connecting the adventure mountain to other recreational paths in the area. As part of the masterplan for Beringen, connecting the mountain and making it accessible to skiers, wheelchairs, strollers, bikes, and other methods of mobility was extremely important. Opening the mountain to all sorts of users allows for a greater draw from the surrounding areas and incorporates the design into the community with ease.
The history of the site is very important in this design, the timbers of the pole forest being brought right out of the shafts which produced the terril, the colours of the mountain, the pathway materials. All of these choices were made with the intent of bringing the history of the mountain to the front of the discussion. Throughout the entire mountain there are rest places combined with information panels, connecting visitors with all the past history of the site.
Old Materials, New Purpose
The Play Landscape is one of many projects the town of Beringen and be-MINE plan to finish, all revolving around Beringen’s post-mining landscapes and encouraging more recreational activities while also bringing in tourism to the town. What is most admirable about their efforts to reinvigorate the town is that they are not turning their backs on the mining practices and – most importantly – the hard work of their past citizens which built the town to what it has become.
Full Project Credits For Play Landscape be-MINE :
Project Name: Play Landscape be-MINE
Design team Omgeving: Luc Wallays, Maarten Moers, Peter Swyngedauw, Ada Barbu, Tom Beyaert
Design team Carve: Elger Blitz, Mark van de Eng, Jasper van de Schaaf, Hannah Schubert, Johannes Müller, Clément Gay
Date of design: January 2015
Date of completion: September 2016
Masterplan Avonturenberg: Antea Group
Main contractor: Krinkels
Sub contractors: Van Vliet BV, IJreka BV
Size: 10.060 m2 (of which 5200m2 rope forest, 1200m2 prismatic play surface, 1200m2 coal square)
Websites: www.omgeving.be, www.carve.nl
Photography: Benoit Meeus, Carve (Marleen Beek, Hannah Schubert)
Location: Beringen, Belgium
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