be-NATURE, a unique concept for a unique site
be-NATURE is a project that will combine industrial heritage and nature in a unique way. The project will be developed in the former coal washes 1 and 3 of Beringen Mine.
The Coal Laundries-the heart of the coal mine-is where the coal was processed. The building complex stands on columns so that the coal cars could drive under them and then fill them with coal and leave again for the coal port.
In the vicinity of the coal laundry, therefore, there was continuous movement, 24 hours a day and 7 days a week, from both mining carts and miners. Coal Laundry 1 and 3 stand idle for 30 years today. The movement has stopped, the imposing building stands empty and degrading. That will soon change
A green heart IN the site
The throbbing, industrial heart with black coal of yesteryear is transformed into the green heart of the mine, with nature and water penetrating to the core of the building. Tourists take the place of trains and wagons as they head along the new tracks toward the coal laundry. After a period of stasis, the movement of the past returns, albeit in a softer way
The core of the building used to be accessible only to the people who worked there, but in the future it will be freely accessible to everyone, residents of Beringen as well as tourists. The coal laundry will once again play a central role in the operation of the mine site.
A unique experience
The impressive building of coal washes 1 and 3 dominate the view along the north side. At 45 meters, therefore, the building is at least as tall as quite a few church towers. That imposing sight is completely preserved. The north facade will be restored to its full height and width. The unstable east façade will be replaced with a new transparent shell so that Coal Laundry 3 becomes a large viewing box from Adventure Mountain. Behind the facade, the first 15 are also being renovated and transformed into beautiful spaces that will be repurposed.
Behind it comes be-NATURE
The structure of columns and beams is being restored. The roof disappears, creating an open space within the building. A space in which nature can grow. Gradually, industrial heritage and nature are melting together as a result. It will create a unique spectacle that changes constantly, to the rhythm of the seasons and grows with the plants and trees that nestle there.
Cycling through the mine
The cycling experience begins at be-MINE unusually strong. Along the experience bike path, cyclists can cycle under the coal washes, just as coal cars used to do. Visitors immediately see the grandeur of the building complex: cyclists pedal under more than 10,000sqm of covered outdoor space, among a forest of concrete columns on which the immense building rests.
It is the beginning of a bicycle tour through Limburg’s mining history, as be-MINE is the most westerly mining site in Limburg and is also the first mining site that visitors from the directions of Antwerp or Brussels will encounter. It is therefore no coincidence that be-MINE is being given the function of a gateway from which visitors can discover Limburg’s mining history. So it can also be done by bicycle via the coal railroad, the physical bicycle connection that in the future will connect all mining settlements. Cyclists can already grease their calves as they can cycle from Beringen to Maasmechelen, which is even longer than the Belgian coast.
Hiking trail with a viewpoint
Almost like a forest trail, a path of walkways and stairs winds its way up through the building. The walker thus gets a unique view of the core of the coal laundry, in which the most important and largest machines are still present. This creates a story of heritage, water and nature. As an end point, there is the Chapel Tower, the highest point of the site. That vantage point – which, by the way, extends as high above the site as the wheels of the shaft trestle – offers a unique view of the very wide surroundings. Conversely, it is a landmark for visitors making their way to be-MINE.