Dudley MBC | West Midlands, UK 2006

Moxon, in collaboration with Knight Architects, developed this radical scheme to transform a network of historic underground canals and limestone mines in the West Midlands into a world class visitor experience.

Visitors arrive in the underground caverns by way of a narrowboat journey under the town of Dudley before disembarking in the UK's largest underground canal basin. From the canal basin, by way of new walkways and circulation, the visitors then experience the astonishing scale of the Step Shaft Cavern, a 20m high mine to be lit by spectacular lighting that accentuates the extraordinary geology of the mine workings.

In addition to the historic areas two important new spaces will be created:
the 'Minstrel Gallery' will see visitors immersed in a synthetic environment of wraparound lighting and projections, while a 200m long funicular lift will convey people between the different levels of the mine and the National Nature Reserve some 70m above.

The extraordinary engineering challenges involved in stabilising the original mines and tunnels as well as creating new underground spaces have been tackled by a consultant team comprising Arup, Geodesign, Gifford and Scott Wilson, assisted by specialist mining contractor Forkers.