Innovation That Matters

A 95-metre tall mountain of mine waste in Jerada, Morocco | Photo source Chloe Liang Xiuling / Royal Danish Academy

Using mine waste to build communities

Architecture & Design

A master’s student in Denmark has developed a plan to use mine waste as a material additive in buildings

Spotted: Chloe Liang Xiuling, a master’s student at the Royal Danish Academy has developed a proposal for a new type of social architecture that could use the waste products from mining to create new communities. The proposal, dubbed Anthracite Tracks, was part of Xiuling’s master’s thesis. It proposes upcycling mining waste left over from coal mines in Jerada, Morocco, as an additive to ceramics and clay-based building materials to construct new buildings and communities.

Morocco has a large mining industry, but lacks an effective system to manage the large amounts of waste produced. Many of the country’s mines have been shut down in the last two decades, leaving even more waste lying around. The huge coal mine in Jerada shut down in 2001, leaving thousands unemployed and decimating the areas economic and social infrastructure. At the same time, Morocco has a tradition of building in rammed earth and clay.

Xiuling envisions incorporating some of the estimated 20 million tonnes of mine waste in Jerada into new, clay-based building materials and then using these to construct new community buildings, and to create a new export industry. She envisions turning Jerada’s waste mountain into new community spaces that incorporate waste processing, residential space, workshops, and an elevated town square.

In her thesis presentation, Xiuling described the proposal as “Developing social architecture that breathes life into remnants of the past to pave the way towards a sustainable future.” She added that “Anthracite Tracks presents the possibility of having mine waste from all around Morocco brought in to be a part of this movement of upcycling through creation, while providing an environment dedicated to celebrating the process and sharing the knowledge with everyone.”

Innovations in sustainable design and construction are coming rapidly as architects and designers embrace low and no net carbon construction. Some ideas we have seen recently at Springwise include the use of ancient building techniques, insulation made from grass and a school built from bamboo

Written By: Lisa Magloff



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