Monument of the Heart Mining’s Heart

Development a renovation plan for two Historic Coal Mining and refinery building in Lota, Chile.

Located in the center-south of Chile, in the region of Concepción, Lota was once a center of the Coal mining with huge importance as national as international level. In the 19° century, this little town with Spanish’s foundation emplaced in the coast becomes a Coal mining city where there were 50 hectares located between the residential area and the coastal edge. This area was intervened with a net of infrastructures which were used to extract the mineral, for processing it and then to export it in different towns if Chile and also around the world.
In 1882 Lota became one of the most important coal mining center of Latin America.
During the period of the Carboniferous boom, the city acquired a strong identity associated with this exploitation. However, after the Second World War, the production started to decrease, due to an increase in the coalmining’s cost. Finally, the factory closed the industrial activity in 1997, marking the end of a glorious era.
Today there are vestiges of that historical past. The buildings that once had used in the production of coal are abandoned, deteriorated or in ruins. Little by little time is erasing the mining history of Lota and at the same time disappearing from the collective memory of people.
The architectural project Monument to the heart of coal sought to recover this history. For this, Carlos Cousiño’s Piques (shafts) were chosen as a central piece. However, today this great iconic value of the industrial complex is abandoned. The project sought to make visible the underground world of industrial activity that included a network of tunnels that reached depths of up to 530 meters below sea level and that covered an area that exceeded by 6 times the size of the land occupied by the complex industrial on the surface.
In the project, the structure of the Piques was preserved as a historical piece, with its towers in metal and concrete structure, its sheds and railway lines. But in addition, it was sought to accentuate its importance through an underground excavation, which without touching the pre-existing elements, built an underground viewpoint towards the peak itself, which allows the visitor to feel immersed in the heart of the mining world.
The architectural intervention is a journey in descent through 3 layers, to finally get to face the dimension of the shafts, culminating point, and heart of the history of coal. A monument, an experience and a trip in which the towers, the industrial building and the tunnels are exhibited to the visitor to relive the sensation of the miner being immersed in the depths, and together with this, celebrate this historic mining past, which is so important for Chile and for Lota.