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Open Access Thesis
Master of Architecture (M.Arch.)
Year Degree Awarded
Month Degree Awarded
Mining is the primary method through which modern society obtains the minerals needed to fuel the global economy, provide for modern energy requirements, and support the built environment. Presently, mining accounts for nearly 1% of the global ice-free land surface, with a dramatic increase anticipated in the coming decades. Mining permanently changes and often destroys the pre-existing topography, hydrology, and ecology of the ground, and efforts to reclaim mining landscapes—with the aim of encouraging reforestation and soil replenishment—are often unsuccessful, rendering the land of abandoned mines both unusable and uninhabitable.
This thesis addresses the current state of mining in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and focuses specifically on a cobalt and copper mining complex within and adjacent to the town of Kolwezi. This is a complex site that is crucial for the global transition to renewable energy, and yet contains many of the climate and social injustices currently implicit with mining. This research formulates a novel model of mine reclamation for the landscapes of Kolwezi, and, in the process, introduces new options for the symbiosis of extraction and inhabitation: the results of which will challenge many of the existing narratives within architecture. This model is guided by concepts of geologic and deep time, with an emphasis on long-term holistic solutions and uses the opportunity of building in terraformed land as a practice to invert traditional relationships of vertical space and hierarchy. Finally, this thesis works to create an alternative design for living, one that accounts for our outsized impact on planetary ecologies, ultimately redesigning and restructuring our relationships to our sacred ground.
Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
DeWitt, Erica, "Architecture of Extraction: Imagining New Modes of Inhabitation and Reclamation in the Mining Lifecyle" (2023). Masters Theses. 1317.