WEEE Marl!

Marl (DE) – Winner


Team Representative: Jorge Sobejano Nieto (ES) – architect; Associates: Elena Fuertes González (ES), Ramón Martínez Pérez (ES) – architects
Collaborateurs : Álvaro Molins Jiménez (ES), Ledo Pérez Vázquez (ES) – students in architecture

Taller de Casquería, Glorieta de Bilbao 1, 4o Izq, 28004 Madrid – España
+34 628 868 150 – hola@tallerdecasqueria.com – www.tallerdecasqueria.com

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L. Pérez Vázquez, J. Sobejano Nieto, Á. Molins Jiménez, E. Fuertes González & R. Martínez Pérez


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1. How did you form the team for the competition?

Every member of the team involved in the Europan proposal for Marl, Germany, is a founding member of our office –Taller de Casquería– formed in Madrid back in 2010 around mutual interests and similar ways to approach architecture.


2. How do you define the main issue of your project, and how did you answer on this session main topic: Adaptability through Self-Organization, Sharing and/or Project (Process)?

The main issue of “WEEE Marl!” is the reconversion of the 117-year-old Auguste Victoria Mine –permanently closed by the end of 2015– into a new, multi-oriented productive site.
”WEEE Marl!” proposes an innovative concept for a sustainable economy for the former mining site in Marl, and to change the site industrial purpose from coal- to urban-mining: an economic concept based on recycling electronic devices and components. This goes through recognizing and upgrading the informal process of scrap recycling, which currently takes place mainly in third world countries and is harmful for their local population as well as for the environment, as a new demanding sector in the recycling industry. At the same time, it also not only provides realistic work perspectives for the former miners, but also perspectives to transform Marl into a new hub of a modern closed-loop economy, due to all the industries directly related to the resources obtained from the recycling process. This demanded and extremely valuable resources (precious metals and technology metals) are nowadays imported to Europe almost in its totality by automotive, alternative energies and technology industries –industries in which Germany has a leading role worldwide.
In this direction, “WEEE Marl!” is an open-ended project in which the value is not in its final formalization. The project is itself a strategic process that includes as many actors as possible to effectively revitalize the site former economic and cultural value, not only for Marl's benefit, but also for an in-every-level connected world.


3. How did this issue and the questions raised by the site mutation meet?

The Europan competition brief for Marl, asked the participants to answer a complicated question: “What to do with 3,000 unemployed former miners?” The Auguste Victoria Mine has been part of Marl's soul for over a century (it is even represented on its coat of arms), but by the end of 2015 it will have ceased its activity. This goes beyond the cultural loss, affecting directly and indirectly Marl's economy. "WEEE Marl!" seeks to reprogram the former mine into a modern productive site and at the same time, benefit from Marl's extraordinary and hyper-connected location –through road, train and canals– to make of Auguste Victoria Mine site a global reference.


4. Have you treated this issue previously? What were the reference projects that inspired yours?

In our office, Taller de Casquería, we haven't treated this specific issue before, but, in developing “WEEE Marl!” we did use the same approach that could define our production, which tends to be placed across disciplines (architecture, urban and social strategy, arts, communication…), but not ascribed to any of them in particular. We move in between them to develop a project-specific strategic approach, proposing complex technical, social and political innovations.
In this scenario, several projects from different fields were taken as references for the “WEEE Marl!” proposal:

- The YuXinOu Railway, a freight rail route linking the South-Western Chinese city of Chongqing with Duisburg, Germany (only 40 km from Marl). This railway is part of a growing network connecting China and Europe along the New Silk Road (or Eurasian Land Bridge). This 11,179-km route takes almost half the time to reach its destination, compared to the container ship transport time, as well as being safer and less expensive.
This industrial megaproject gave us a good understanding of the privilege location of Auguste Victoria Mine, not only locally, but at a global scale. It is expected that by 2020, Germany's trade with China could top that trade numbers Germany has with the Netherlands and France, Germany’s top two trade partners in 2014.
It also directed us into researching into the world of trade, supply and finally, disposal of technological goods (Chongqing hosts some of the biggest multinational IT companies, such as Foxconn).
- Andrés Jaque's work, Office for Political Innovation (as Cosmo, MoMA PS1 Program, NY, or Sales Oddity, Venice Architecture Biennale 2014) always introducing complex social and political topics in the development of his projects.
- The work of Luis Callejas Landscape and Architecture Office (LCLA office), described by himself as an "office positioned at the intersection of architecture, landscape and urbanism, oriented toward new forms of engagement with the public realm through territorial operations." His work and research often consider geopolitical and social implications, highly relevant for the possible resolution proposed.


5. Today –at the era of economic crisis and sustainability– the urban-architectural project should reconsider its production method in time; how did you integrate this issue in your project?

As previously mentioned, “WEEE Marl!” is a strategic approach towards the issue raised by the competition organizers. Optimal resolution of Marl’s concerns will very much depend on a proper staged development of the project, concerning short-term, mid-term and long-term goals; specifically aiming to assemble a strong, committed community formed by citizens, technicians, politicians, economists and specialists.


6. Is it the first time you have been awarded a prize at Europan? How could this help you in your professional career?

Yes, It is the first time that we have participated. Winning Europan is a big success, proving that the research we are bringing forward is aligned with other people's interests. This makes us feel part of a greater cultural discourse, it brings along pride but also a strong commitment in constructing a shared knowledge with all the parties involved in the organization of this great initiative.