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Rubbish Goes Green

"The idea was to create a system of hills and banks in a way that would avoid erosion from water."-- Batlle and Roig Architects. The judges described the renovation of Spain's largest landfill as a "beautiful piece of landscape architecture...using few and humble means."


A landscape restoration of a 370-acre dump at the Valley of Joan (La Vall d'en Joan) in Garraf Natural Park southwest of Barcelona has won the Energy, Waste and Recycling category at the inaugural 2008 World Architecture Festival in Barcelona, Spain.

The judges described the rehabilitation of the literally trashed and polluted landscape as a "beautiful piece of landscape architecture." Joan Roig of Batlle and Roig Architects created green terraces and banks in the hilly landscape to mitigate erosion and return the dump back to nature.

The land renovation focused on sustainability, employing underground drainage, recycled water and use of biogas. At the bottom of the valley is the water treatment plant (top left) and the biogas plant (bottom left).

The work began in 2000 and completed in 2008.

The landfill was metro Barcelona's dumping ground for over 30 years before its closure in 2006. It's reported in some places on site there was 100 meters of trash atop the soil.

Batlle and Roig designed for sustainability. Underground drainage for the site filters contaminates. Some of this recycled water irrigates the park and biogas emitted from the site provides some electricity.

As a reminder to visitors of the land's previous usage, several cages of rubbish are placed at the entrance to the site.

The Energy, Waste and Recycling category of the World Architecture Festival may not be the glamorous prize, but is certainly an important focus for our throwaway world.

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November 19, 2019, 10:55 pm PDT

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