Eco-friendly reuse of marble wastes in landscape and architecture

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The Anticlinal of Estremoz, in Portugal, is one of world’s main sites of marble extraction. Annually, millions-of-tons of marble are extracted from the multiple quarries present in the area, but only 9% of picked material is marketed because only this percentage is considered of “quality”. Due to economic reasons, today, only a small number of quarries remains active and this has contributed to the degradation of the site. The remaining 91% of the unused material is shelved in stone accumulations, designated by “Escombreiras”, creating a strong impact on the landscape that cannot be disposed due to cost. The present research is based on the paradigm shift of going beyond the appearance, considering the mounds of waste not as imperfections but as having a great eco-friendly potential for the requalification of the area. Their reuse will be the basis for the promotion of new buildings inside and above the mounds of waste, integrated with the surrounding landscape, ecology and geology using interdisciplinarity as the key driver for innovation. The advantages are: sustainability, because it uses the local waste materials that are reused in situ preserving the identity of the industrial place; there will also be energy savings, because the wastes don’t need to be moved elsewhere; finally, the buildings will be naturally heated or cooled due to the large thickness of the marble walls and other inherent features. Therefore, these buildings can generate nearly zero emissions of CO2 and they will contribute to the reduction of pollution, helped by the presence of the existing vegetal cover, which fixes the pollutants in the air and produces oxygen. The abandoned area will be transformed into a liveable and sustainable touristic place, reusing, in a contemporary way, the concept of vernacular architecture, keeping the tradition, but also using the present technologies to achieve significant energy savings.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)665-677
Number of pages13
JournalWIT Transactions on Ecology and the Environment
Publication statusPublished - 2019
EventSustainable City 2020: 14th International Conference on Urban Regeneration and Sustainability - Rome, Italy
Duration: 22 Sep 202024 Sep 2020


  • Estremoz-Anticlinal
  • Marble
  • Portugal
  • Quarry
  • Recycle
  • Reuse
  • Waste


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