Open-cut mines dig massive, massive holes out of the earth, leaving behind the problem of how you go about remediating the site once the mine is spent. Washington University in St Louis student Matthew Fromboluti designed Above Below, a brilliant proposal to take Arizona’s 900 feet deep Lavender Pit Mine:
The empty mine, via evolo.
And build within it an “inverse sky-scraper” as a self-sustaining underground building.
The interior and the surface of Above Below, via evolo.
The holes on the surface allow light to reach the lower levels, while the central column allows warm air to escape from the structure, driving wind turbines near the top. The lowest level acts as a reservoir to collect rainwater.
Schematic of the interior, again from evolo.
The pictures don’t really suggest how vast this would be. At 900 feet (274m) deep, that central tower would be the height of a 60-storey building. The surface covers 300 acres, which is roughly a kilometre wide square.
While the design looks immediately useful as a futuristic location, this had me thinking about that old fantasy trope of dwarves living in mines. That almost always seems to mean rickety deep mine shafts, but this offers an alternative model. And the damage to the surface that digging out such a large structure makes could be the cause of enmity between these miners and woodland elves: the dwarves as hard-headed business men, the elves as eco-terrorists.