Located in the Belgian city of Genk, the former Winterslag coal mine, once a major source of industry in the city, has been converted into a sprawling contemporary art campus where visitors can experience futuristic visions in a location rooted in the past.
Coal was first discovered in the area around 1902, and the in mine in the Winterslag region of Genk first began its operations in 1914. The rich seams of ore led to a substantial development in the area surrounding the mine, including both residential and administrative structures being built while the work underground continued. Unfortunately around the 1960s, the coal in the area began to dry up and the Winterslag mine was finally forced to shut down operation in the mid-1980s.
Rather than allow the substantial infrastructure that had been installed to simply rot or become a relic, the entire mining complex was turned into a haven for modern art, now called C-Mine. Among the facilities located in the complex are a visitor’s center located in the old electrical building, a massive cultural center in one of the old industrial buildings that hosts concerts, theater, and other installations, and an art space located in the old mining tunnels that visitors can stroll through. Given the high-art state of the mine today, it’s hard to believe it was once simply a coal mine.
In 2016, architect Gijs Van Vaerenbergh created a surreal outside labyrinth with over 3,000 feet of corridors, ways, and see-through cut-outs where visitors you can wander for hours and let themselves get lost. Only time will tell what new work will appear at the old mine next.