In the 1970s and 1980s , after the gradual closure of coalmines, many former industrial sites became ugly sores in a region struggling to recover.
In the early 1990s , driven by the joint forces of the Walloon Region and the European Union, the idea emerged to convert the former Crachet-Picquery mining site in Frameries, in the Borinage, into a centre dedicated to discussing and promoting scientific, technical and industrial culture.
At the end of a European call for tenders, internationally renowned French architect Jean Nouvel was tasked with the planning, architecture and renovation work involved in converting the wasteland in keeping with the site’s history.
The process resulted in a unique yet multi-faceted site, bridging the gap between the past, the present and the future.
1950s industrial architecture produced some spectacular buildings, some of which, the Belvédère, the Pit-Head Frame and the Machine Room, have been listed as industrial heritage sites since 1989. Jean Nouvel incorporated them into the very heart of a contemporary design using ideas and materials from industrial constructions.
By creating the Pass’erelle (literally, the footbridge) 210 metres long, which passes through all the different parts of SPARKOH! he took his inspiration from the former coalmine. A symbolic link between the past and the present.
The architect Laurent Niget continued with the plans to build SPARKOH!