American progress into a leading capitalist superpower has developed alongside an inherent estrangement of man and environment. Parasitism of the nation’s ecosystems for the natural resources therein has generated a view of “Nature" as both a holy entity worthy of preservation, and an “other” existing only to fuel the country’s evolution. Mountaintop removal coal mining (MTR) has proved particularly detrimental to the ecological well-being of the US’ old-growth forest habitats in the eastern US . Appalachia’s Hobet 21 Surface Mine illustrates extremes of such human exceptionalism, and is the focus of this thesis investigation.



“These neo-machines operate as intentional surgeries, which cut or prod selective areas to promote the need for scar tissue and healing.”


Hobet 21 has drawn its environment into ecocide, making this deserted mine the perfect candidate for an experiment in transcendence of ecological rebalancing. In a phased regenerative transformation to the West Virginia site, abandoned mining equipment is initially converted into means of regeneration rather than destruction. These neo-machines operate as intentional surgeries, which cut or prod selective areas to promote the need for scar tissue and healing. As ecological diversity is reestablished in this manner, the habitat may eventually thrive without active human maintenance. The final phase invites education and complete biologic re-access as the previously toxic mine is nominated as a federally protected National Park, reviving this once exploited ecosystem.

Though this investigation is fictional, it depicts the very possible reality of placing what was once out of sight into mine.


Jennifer Mahan

︎ VENN DESIGN JOURNAL || DESIGN AND TECHNOLOGY