In July, Unesco included the Grand-Hornu mining complex in its list of World Heritage sites. The recognition of this achievement was celebrated on 7 September.
Located in the Borinage region in Belgium, the site of the Grand-Hornu is dominated by an immense slag heap, which bears witness to the intense mining activity that held sway here during the 19th and 20th centuries. It is surrounded by the Coron du Grand-Hornu, a town of 450 homes that housed the influx workers from neighboring regions during the era.
Coal mining has long since ceased, and private owners have replaced miners in the town. The shops, stables, construction workshops, and copper and iron foundries now host exhibitions organized by two not-for-profit associations: Grand-Hornu Images and the Musée des arts contemporains de la communauté française (Museum of Contemporary Art of the French Community, or MAC’s).
To ensure the sustainability of this unique site, a new not-for-profit association, the Grand-Hornu Foundation, was created last March.
This foundation is supported by two major private sector partners: Akzo-Nobel and BNP Paribas Fortis. Its first project involves repainting the facades of 450 homes. This work is being carried out by the region’s technical and vocational schools, in collaboration with Le Forem, a public-sector organisation responsible for providing employment and vocational training services in the Wallonia region. BNP Paribas Fortis is offering favourable financing solutions and helping homeowners prepare their financing applications, while Akzo-Nobel is providing the paint.
…A civic project with social and cultural dimensions!
The Grand-Hornu was built between 1810 and 1830 by Henri De Gorge, a French captain of industry. On a day-to-day basis, the site is managed by the not-for-profit associations Grand Hornu Images and MAC’s, which organise guided tours in French, Dutch, English, German and Italian, school courses, and a number of exhibitions on architecture, design and contemporary art. The complex hosts 70,000 visitors annually.