An architectural legacy
The Pass site used to be known as Crachet Picquery.
There is evidence that coal was already being mined here in the 12th century, entirely by hand.
The mine flourished through the 18th and 19th centuries and into the early 20th century, before the crisis in the coal industry began to make itself felt. After the Second World War, the company invested in completely new equipment, but this could not prevent the mine's closure in 1960.
The industrial architecture of the 1950s, confident in its certainties and its rules, gave the site some spectacular buildings, which were given listed status in 1989. In 1997, on the initiative of the local and regional authorities and with support from the European Community, the former colliery was chosen as the location for Belgium's premier celebration of scientific and technical culture.
The layout of the site and the architectural design were opened up to a Europe-wide call for tenders, leading to the selection of the world-renowned French architect, Jean Nouvel.
Nouvel, who has designed prestigious cultural buildings throughout the world, is also passionate about industrial archaeology. He is committed to respecting the history of the sites where he works, creating modern constructions which continue to bear witness to their original functions and periods. This approach has found remarkable expression in the creation of the Pass, whose architecture, simultaneously sober and spartan, expressive and functional, dynamic and poetic, draws upon the raw materials of industrial buildings - profiled metal cladding, smooth concrete, arched wooden beams - to deepen its connection with the site.
Jean Nouvel saved several buildings from demolition (the Silo Quarter, at the entrance to the site), and sought inspiration from the colliery's operation to restore the site's original dimensions, creating a park made up of nine areas, rich in an architecture that is full of meaning.