Competition: OUTR Transiting Cities / 2012
Results: Student Honourable Mention

How can we pragmatically bring positive change to fossil fuel dependent places?

The competition’s theme was about regenerative strategies for communities tied to open-pit coal mining, in southern Australia. The following entry made use of both derelict quarries and active ones to sculpt giant, re-usable landscapes over time. This could be achieved through the rethinking of the mining methods themselves, and the use of local hydrology to accelerate top soil regeneration.

The strategy tackled issues on different fronts. Open pit mining leaves vast grounds completely scrapped and hard to regenerate. Therefor, in combination of top soil recreation methods, an overall framework of ecological corridor networking has been developed to link northern, western and southern reserves. Another aspect is the transitioning from a coal based energy towards renewables. This can be done through careful assessment of the remaining resources and the establishment of a flexible schedule of their use.

To be left with usable grounds after the mining is completed, the land would greatly benefit from an efficiency compromise. It would aim at providing enough coal for the Hazelwood power-plant to meet its production needs while leaving behind accessible agricultural sized parcels of land. This implies that in an initial stage, the mining methods meet the pre-existing agricultural grid (light blue). To then realize an energetic transition, the strategy schedules a progressive switch from deep mining to shallow. This will also ensure that the regular ground level incrementally meets the deep ends of the mines.

Projections show that an exemplary energetic changeover would be more manageable from over 50 years up to a century. This range depends mostly on financial fluctuations, since green efforts are notorious for having potential inhibiting effects on local economies.

Synthetic wetlands will help speed up the post-mining soil formation. Rivers and streams will be diverted through the artificial terraces to create biomass on sterile grounds. Through encouraged hydrosere succession, soil regeneration for agricultural purposes should greatly be accelerated, while potentially generating biomass and food through temporary algae based cultures.