Regeneration of the Balangero Mines


In a state of great negative change – morphological, environmental, historical, or social, there must be an unequivocally positive transformation: in scale, symbolism, relevance to the region or magnitude of the gesture.

The intervention must be a clear statement of optimism, of directing capacity, showing that the current state is reversible and having confidence in the redemptive abilities of technology and human intelligence, in nature’s regenerating ability and its mechanisms of self-regulation.

The competition program hinted at an opposition between the area of interventionand three large-scale aspects:

— The aspect of the landscape’s ‘wounds’, leading us to the scale of natural morphology, to which they now belong, reinforcing its awe-inspiring component, and adding a picturesque/macabre one;

— The aspect of the industrial structures, whether derived from the volume of the productive structures themselves, their abandoned and partially ruined state, their lack of accessibility, or from the possible intuitive perception of the old exploitation of this land, it whispers of these vanished movements and extraction noises, of transport and labour;

— The aspect of environmental contamination, or of the public health risk, which is not immediately perceptible or sensed (in a visit to the place), but the result of information processed a priori by each of us (a kind of hidden danger, only rationally present).

A great part of the plastic and territorial appeal of this ensemble, was part of the two first dimensions, and the relationships they established with their morphological and landscape context, the remains of one shaped by a glacier and river-dynamics. For this competition, it became important to engage them in dialogue, that is, to integrate them in the same discourse logic, or in an articulated reinvention of these relations, according to a contemporary point of view.

On the other hand, the greatest challenge to the transformation and operationalization of a way to open this place to the public, involving the recovered community, laid precisely in the third dimension. How to decontaminate a landscape which, at present is a serious hazard to public health, and how to do so without destroying any part of what confers on it its patrimonial value?

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