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Mine Plug: Didactic Subterranean Architecture

Mine Plug: Didactic Subterranean Architecture
© Brandon Mosley
© Brandon Mosley

The Mine Plug proposal, by recent Louisiana Tech graduate Brandon Mosley, explores an innovative technique for appropriating a now defunct mine shaft in the once thriving city of Picher, Oklahoma. The city which peaked at a population of almost 20,000 during the mining boom of the 1900’s, has since suffered the inevitable after effects of such environmentally destructive activities. Designated as a superfund site in 1981 by the EPA, the state of Oklahoma began offering buyouts for residents to relocate in 2005. The remnants from years of lead and zinc mining have left mountains of waste called “chat” on the peripheries of the town, as well as contaminated water and over 14,000 underground voids that threaten the stability of the town above. Read more after the break.

Mosley’s project proposes a hybrid museum that not only engages, but embraces the scarred landscape by inserting a processional circulation shaft into one of the abandoned mines. The architecture above ground is relatively unassuming beside its complementary multi-story pile of mining waste – reflecting the enormous amount of material that has been excavated underneath the town. A ruin garden located adjacent to the main tower shaft that extends above ground recalls the once flourishing activity that occupied the immediate vicinity. An entry tunnel funnels visitors down a slight ramp, building up anticipation for the main vertical experience. The main procession occurs within the spiraling vertical shaft that features walls lined with historical images dedicated to the city of Picher and its once thriving economy.

© Brandon Mosley
© Brandon Mosley

At the bottom of the circulation shaft, a glazed observation room hangs down below the roof of an abandoned cavern exposing a 360 degree panorama. Further enhancing the space is a camera obscura projecting images of landscape above onto the hollowed out walls of the underground mine – a powerful reminder of the devastating effects of industrial mining and the inherent repercussions on the landscape and whole communities. See more of the project here, and also on BLDGBLOG.

© Brandon Mosley
© Brandon Mosley

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Cite: Tim Winstanley. "Mine Plug: Didactic Subterranean Architecture" 10 Jan 2012. ArchDaily. Accessed . <> ISSN 0719-8884
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