Mining the city

1 vision and 3 actions for the Latrobe Energy Valley 

The vision: From independent territory colonisation processes to the joint production valley construction.

The Latrobe valley is a constant changing territory due to its own mining activity. These dynamics will continue in the future. The mining industry has been the reason for the region’s development and it will be the opportunity to take up on the construction of the new territorial city.

“Mining the city” recognizes the relationship city-mine as the DNA stamp of this valley, proposing that in the future the interdependence between the productive activity and the mine, the urban habitat and the natural landscape, constitute a trinomial, understood as a positive and solidary way to restructure the territory. To occupy the already exploited mining areas is the opportunity for the Latrobe valley to turn into an energy productive area that in a sustainable way integrates the mines with the rest of the pieces and allows the re-greening of the landscape and the new city

A territory where physical transformation is so evident demands a strategy for the reuse of the pieces that inserts itself on its own evolution cycle.

The phases for the construction of the future Latrobe Energy Valley would be:

-The recovery and preparation of the already exploited areas by the mining industry.

– Favor the production of new renewable energies witch implies new economical activities.

– Build a territory city with new residential fabrics, empowering diverse social groups and motivating the appearance of new mixed activities.

How to reach this vision?

Three actions:

1. Projecting the boundaries: Occupational model

Throughout time the cities and the mines have evolved independently, each one under its own set of rules. Because of this, there has been a dispersion of urban pieces that consume the territory undermining the natural areas. Against this dispersion a model is proposed that concentrates future urban development, energy and industrial production, around the already used and discarded land by the mining industry. A city that is more compact is more sustainable and allows the flow of natural systems.

The future development of the city is located in the perimeter of the pit to break the current limits and build the new boundaries that, as tentacles, extend and interact with the different parts of the territory –existing city, infrastructures and roads, forests, agricultural areas, big service buildings and industrial developments-. The new boundaries are defined by contextual elements of the nearby pieces. This way the pit restructures and links the different parts of the territory consolidating the original network.

The project is complemented with a new mobility network that enhances the train’s access points to the pit as links with the existing city. The mobility network is complemented by proposing a public transport ring around the pit.


2. The mine’s displacement: evolution through time.

The rules and rhythms of the mine’s industrial exploitation set the growth’s speed and shape of the future city. While the mine moves forward searching for more coal, it “releases” land that is potentially usable by the new growths. This crossed and interlinked nature generates a landscape that is understood as a sequence of ever changing and evolving situations throughout time.

The project of the future valley searches for the construction of a new self sufficient city. The gradual transformation of the mine into a city opens the possibility to benefit from new recycling systems and non pollutant energies.

3. From  coal to other sources of energy:  the economical alternative

The Latrobe valley’s singularity lays on it being the region’s energy generator. And that must continue to be so. Until today only coal has been exploited as a source of energy. Other activities have settled on the land regardless of the pit following different territorial logics.

We propose that the industrial exploitation of the mine implies the business of building the future energy and production city.  The diversity of the energetic matrix is proposed by enhancing various forms of renewable energy sources, which due to the characteristics of the valley, may be complementary. The colonisation of the boundaries releases a big empty inner space with a huge potential for the development of new energy production exploits.

Latrobe valley will become a hub of technological companies related to the energy production based on the sustainability objectives and goals defined by the Latrobe city itself. It will also be a Lab dedicated to the research for the development of new energies and non pollutant production processes.



Title: Mining the city

Project Name: Transiting cities – Low carbon future

Location: Latrobe valley, Melbourne – Australia

Date: december 2012

Programme: Territorial planning

Organizer: OUTR, Office Urban Transformation Research – RMIT University

Team: Alvaro Cuéllar, Anna Gutiérrez, Jordi Safont-Tria

Collaborators: Mariano Pérez, Carmen Boyer

Competition carried out in TOC – Taller Obert de Concursos, at the ETSAB, Escuela Técnica Superior Arquitectura de Barcelona, Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya.