Montceau-les-Mines? A former mine, closed down, abandoned. The question is: what to do with this site? By accepting that people leave, the countryside can turn back into nature or vineyards again. By giving the terrain back to nature and connecting it to other elements, Montceau can become a piece of a greater natural realm, one that aspires for a European green “core” – Montceau National Park – with the existing factory as a contemporary “ruin”. A new start?
Montceau-les-Mines? Where is that? A TGV stop? Really? And what more? A mine?
The demand for ideas for the former mine area in Montceau-les-Mines is not unique. At the same moment areas in Austria, in Rotterdam, in Italy are going under the same process. Industrial installations, factories are closing down, abandoned. What to do with these sites?
This demand can be seen as a part of the economic recession in the same areas. The Old Europe is losing terrain. The former industrial and agricultural economies have been (partly) replaced by service and knowledge economies that are mainly situated in urban clusters, but that due to the foot-looseness of these economies are quite vulnerable: they might move.
The solution for these terrains can therefore not be found in small suggestions, in little ideas. And definitely they cannot be filled by what would be more or less similar programs. How many theme parks can France and Europe handle? How many Hypermarkets should be installed?
These questions demand a deeper and wider approach: What is the role of the French countryside in an epoch where it has lost its importance, where agriculture is disappearing, that many people are leaving the area and the older people who remain are dying out?
Second homes are appearing in many places, replacing the old population with an international one and reducing the classical appearance and identity of the regions. What future does it have? Is this the blueprint for an endless suburbia?
The French countryside has a series of attractions on a European and global scale that can clearly be defended and developed. The climate and the exceptional beauty of the nature can aspire for European park statuses and leisure purposes. The wine industry remains, despite the developments in South Africa, Chile and Australia, of a considerable value.
Maybe the reduction of population pressure on the countryside helps to establish these rediscovered qualities. By accepting that people leave, the countryside can turn back into nature or vineyards again.
In an increasingly competitive world, size plays an important role. A larger countryside influences the qualities of nature by attracting more species and animals and, therefore, draws more human beings. It prevents Europe from being totally suburbanized, the possible syndrome of total mediocrity. It can stimulate diversification on the scale of France and Europe: a possible requirement for economic stability and direction.
By giving the terrain back to nature and connecting it to other elements, Montceau becomes a piece of a greater natural realm, one that aspires for a European green “core” – Montceau National Park – with the existing factory as a contemporary “ruin”.
By spraying the ruins with thick polyurethane paint, the stability of the structures can be guaranteed while flora can grow over it. By planting a forest that could grow to be 60 meters high, by using an experimental combination of species, soil and structures, it can create an overwhelming poetic green mass to absorb the existing structures. It creates a spectacle that can again attract visitors to the region.
A new start?
- Principal in charge