Here’s another project from the RIBA President’s Medals, this one by Alexis Quinteros Salazar, a student at the University of Chile in Santiago.
Called “Mining Cenotaph,” it imagines an “occupation” of the tailings piles that have become a toxic urban landmark and a spatial reminder of the region’s economic exploitation.
A museum would be carved into the tailings; in Salazar’s words, this would be a “building that captures the history and symbolism behind mining, enhancing and revitalizing a memory that is currently disaggregated and ignored and has a very high touristic potential.”
In an architectural context such as this, the use of the word “cenotaph” is a pretty clear reference to Étienne-Louis Boullée’s classic speculative project, the “Cenotaph for Newton.” Over multiple generations, that has become something of a prime mover in the history of experimental architectural design.
Punctured walls and ceilings bring light into the interior—
—while the roof is a recreational space for visitors.
Of course, there are a lot of unanswered questions here—including the control of aerosol pollution from the tailings pile itself and that pile’s own long-term structural stability—but the poetic gesture of a public museum grafted into a pile of waste material is worth commending.
The detail I might like this most is where the structure becomes a kind of inversion of Boullée’s dome, which was pierced to make its huge interior space appear illuminated from above by constellations. Here, instead, it is the perforations in the the rooftop that would glow upward from below, as if in resonance with the night skies high above.
Salazar’s project brings to mind a few other proposals seen here over the years, including the extraordinary “Memorial to a Buried Village” by Bo Li and Ge Men, as well as Brandon Mosley’s “Mine Plug” (which actually took its name retroactively from that BLDGBLOG post).
Click through to see slightly larger versions of the images over at the RIBA President’s Medals website.
Finally, don’t miss the Brooklyn food co-op posted earlier, also a recent President’s Medal featured project.