WEEE! Marl is the winning proposal for the Europan 13 Competition hosted by the municipality of Marl in Germany.
In 2015, the Auguste Viktoria coal mine in the city of Marl, which had been active since the end of the XIX century, ceased its activity, leaving the almost 3000 persons in a difficult situation due to the loss of direct and indirect jobs. Moreover, the city’s identity is based on the mine, like lots of the settlements in the Ruhrgebiet that emerged during the industrialization of Central Europe. Due to this situation, the municipality of Marl launched a competition within the framework of the Europan competition, to look for a solution to a problem of an urbanistic nature, but with great repercussions on the socio-economic fabric of the city. Trying to take into account the social weight of the closure of the mine, both on an economic- and on an identitary level, WEEE Marl! aims for an adjustment of mine´s activity, maintaining the main task of this site, i.e. the extraction of raw material, but changing the source from which the material is extracted: from traditional mining to urban mining. Today we consume a large number of electronic devices that generate a vast amount of waste, which is rarely processed in Europe, but sold to China, India and other countries on the African continent. On the other hand, natural resources extracted from the subsoil are increasingly expensive to mine, due to the consumption increase that took place during the 20th century. In fact, a ton of smartphones contains considerably more gold than a ton of soil extracted from a gold mine. The emerging industry that focuses on recovering all the precious materials found in waste devices is called Urban Mining, highlighting the fact that cities are the new mines of our time. There are very few active projects committed to this industry in Europe, although great manufacturers like China and India import and process this waste in adverse conditions for the worker and the environment. WEEE Marl aimed to establish an european hub committed to the recycling of this type of waste in the former Auguste Viktoria mine, taking advantage of the industrial infrastructure of the area, rich in canals and railroads, and the local identity, based since its beginnings on the extraction of raw materials.
WEEE Marl is a project by Taller de Casquería (E. Fuertes, R. Martínez, A. Molins, J. Sobejano, L. Pérez) developed in 2015 and winner of the Europan 13 edition in the city of Marl.