The town of Beringen in Belgium was once a mining city and home of the largest industrial-archaeological site in Flanders. Now the abandoned coal mine has been transformed into an adventure playground and monument. This repurposed space has been named “be-Mine,” and a nearly 200 foot high mountain serves as the canvas for the new play area. Reminiscent of an obstacle course suitable for The Hunger Games or some other dystopian setting, the new play area/monument deftly incorporates the city’s storied past and ties with the mining industry into a functional and playful space that can be used for generations to come.
The design for the new playground/monument is comprised of three main parts and was designed by Carve and Omgeving. The first is a pole “forest,” which is a nod to the poles that formed a sort of supportive scaffolding in the old mine. In addition to the 1,600 poles int that area, there’s also a space with climbing nets, hammocks, a labyrinth, balance beams and a ropes course. The second area is the prismatic play surface, which encourages kids to maneuver among tunnels and climbing spaces. A popular feature of the play surface is the 65 foot slide, which is situated halfway up the hill and likely so enticing some visitors never even make it to the top! This area, which gets progressively more challenging as visitors clamber up, also reflects the cooperation, trust, and physical labor required by the former miners every day. The final component of the design is at the mountain’s top, which is accessible by straight stairs for the less physically ambitious. A sunken “Coal Square” provides a gathering space, historical information and an amazing view. Mountain bikers and sledders can also make use of this new adventure mountain!
The newly designed playspace is an awesome example of repurposing and reimagining abandoned spaces, as well as a creative way to bring locals and visitors to actively explore and learn about the area’s industrial history. Future plans for the area include a mining museum, offices, residences, and a water park.