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All Projects
  • Location: Beringen, Belgium
  • Program: Retail, Leisure, Residential
  • Area: +100.000 m²
  • Year: 2012
  • Status: Realized
  • Link:
  • Awards: MIPIM AWARD – Best Regeneration Project 2017; BLSC AWARD – Retail Park of the Year 2016


A story unfolds from the remains of an abandoned mine in the heart of Beringen. Before the beginning of the 20th century, this region was sparsely populated. Its sandy soil was hardly touched by agriculture. The advent of coal mining changed Limburg and Beringen forever. In the ’70s and ’80s, the mine was a bustling center, employing 6000 souls and binding the community in a common destiny.

The mining company, NV Mijnen, was more than an employer; it was the fabric of our social life, providing housing in the iconic Garden Districts, a hospital, a casino, and more. But when the mine closed in 1989, it didn’t just end coal mining; it unraveled the fabric of our community. The abandoned buildings and slag heaps stood as scars until a vision for renewal emerged.

The master plan, based on themes of social integration and respect for our heritage, aimed to breathe new life into the same site. Cultural and other activities are needed to continue, fostering a vibrant, evolving community. This led to a flexible masterplan that allowed for phased development within a cohesive framework.

Funding for the masterplan was a mix of grant and self-sufficiency, requiring adaptability for phased development. Surprisingly, data showed that only 30% of local purchases were made within the community, highlighting the potential for a commercial boost to fuel heritage regeneration.

The plan also made room for leisure, introducing an indoor diving center in old settling ponds, a climbing wall, a swimming pool by the cooling towers, experience points in the coal washing plant, and a mining museum. A primary school has been set up in one of the mine buildings, bringing youthful energy to the site.

But at the heart of the plan was a commitment to the natural landscape. The site’s unique soil, altered by mining, supported rare flora and fauna. Recognizing this, the concept of ‘re-nature’ was born, allowing nature to reclaim its space, guided yet free, increasing biodiversity with minimal maintenance.

Today, the master plan is almost complete. However, the rapid pace of change requires us to plan for the next decade, refining our approach and increasing mobility. The challenge now is the lack of a central authority to guide this transition, forcing stakeholders to take the reins. A new role is emerging, calling for leadership in this evolving story of rebirth and resilience.


As master planners for the entire Be-Mine site, UAU was tasked with seamlessly integrating a retail center into the fabric of the master plan. The goal was to redefine the retail experience by creating a space that not only challenged conventional design, but also enhanced community engagement. A study conducted revealed significant shopping outflow to neighboring communities, a trend attributed to traditional retail centers characterized by busy streets and lackluster architecture, often resulting in increased mobility and a negative impact on city centers. This project presented an opportunity to deviate from this norm by locating larger retail units in the heart of the site, away from the busy streets, prioritizing pedestrian and bicycle access.

The design strategy involved integrating commerce into the natural landscape, with the retail base extending along the slope of a historic mine terril, embodying the site’s mining heritage. The architectural approach emphasized high-quality, sustainable materials such as wooden floor elements (Kielsteg), ensuring fully integrated technical and storage areas within the rear façade. A prominent feature is the extensive green roof, which covers at least 18,000m² and is free of any roof equipment, underlining the project’s commitment to sustainability.

Central to the design of the park is its adaptability to accommodate future changes in use. The facade, a 300-meter-long continuous expanse of glass, is complemented by a 5-meter-wide wooden cantilevered roof, creating a sense of openness and connectivity with the surrounding area. In a departure from traditional marketing tactics, an innovative branding concept was integrated directly into the facade, avoiding the clutter of ad hoc advertising and contributing to a cleaner, more aesthetically pleasing environment.

This project marks a new chapter for the Be-Mine site and the surrounding community, harmonizing economic vitality, architectural innovation, experiential richness, and environmental stewardship. It represents a forward-thinking approach to retail development that aims to create a vibrant, inclusive space that resonates with today’s consumer values and environmental consciousness.