The district of Minden-Lübbecke has a constellation of waste and recycling technology that is unique in Germany. In particular, at the location of the Pohlsche Heide (an 84ha disposal centre and landfill site), there is a large number of state-of-the-art technological facilities along with the sorting, processing and depositing of waste/recyclable materials. Parallel to this, legal frameworks together with the current challenges of the energy turnaround and climate protection are leading to a fundamental change in awareness in dealing with ever scarcer resources.
Against this background, the waste management company of the Minden-Lübbecke district (AML) together with the Kreisabfallverwertungsgesellschaft mbH Minden-Lübbecke (KAVG) are announcing a future-oriented direction for the Pohlsche Heide Waste Management Centre, evolving it to a hub for waste and recycling innovation, fueling the circular economy: the landfill site will become a source of raw materials, the starting point for new innovations and a driving force for regional value creation.
At the centre of the ambitious overall project is the programmatic approach of a "Smart ReCycling Factory" - a resource-intelligent innovation centre for recycling management which makes use of the variety of natural, mineral and technical raw materials available at the site, (re)processes them using new possibilities and technologies of digitalisation, (re)combines them, puts them back into value and prototypically develops and tests new innovative products.
Minden Recycling Factory Concept
Producing, consuming, throwing-away, depositing - this form of economic activity proves to be a one-way street. The traditional linear economy leads to a large waste production, which has led to the worldwide scarcity of resources and extreme damage to our ecosystems, humanity and the planet. A cultural change - a new way of living and working is needed.
A regenerative cycle must become the new guiding principle: "Recycled products with long lifespans and multiple uses. Avoids waste entirely." This is exactly why the Smart Recycling Factory (SRF) is needed. SRF seeks to shift society and the economy from the idea of a ‘single-use’ to a responsible handling of our finite resources. Amongst its various functions of R&D facilities, classrooms and laboratories, the greatest opportunity for this project is to invite the public in and to witness what is unfolding in the world of waste, because awareness is the most powerful catalyst for change.
On the basis of architectural and scenic elements, the most sustainable approach was to use what the location already offers. Leading to a carefully considered strategy of "Plug’n Play". Selectively celebrating and reusing existing structures such as the old weighing station and the road infrastructure, as well as the natural qualities such as the extensive surrounding forests, whilst enlarging the existing water retention ponds to create new landscape features. The buildings themselves look to integrate a series of sustainable building materials such as CLT structures, recycled materials for cladding all combined with large rammed earth walls which make use of the existing site’s large clay deposits. The building materials and spaces are designed to inspire both visitors and staff and encourage effective collaboration between the future researchers and existing waste management.
In its entirety, the proposal forms a new arc of awareness, innovation and playful experience, which in the future will be enhanced by exhibiting the benefits and results of a resource-conscious, circular economy.