The Material- Mined coal

Coal is a combustible black or brownish-black sedimentary rock, formed as rock strata called coal seams.

Coal is formed when dead plant matter decays into peat and is converted into coal by the heat and pressure of deep burial over millions of years.

While Coal is primarily used as fuel The coal industry damages the environment, including by climate change as it is the largest anthropogenic source of carbon dioxide

The workshop's context


The Murcki coal mine is a large mine in the south of Poland in Katowice, Silesian Voivodeship, 260 km south-west of the capital, Warsaw. Murcki represents one of the largest coal reserve in Poland having estimated reserves of 228.2 million tonnes of coal. The annual coal production is around 3.8 million tonnes.

(1) Coal and sulfur close up

(2) Student experiment: bio-based composite from agar and coal powder

(3) Coal mine visit



Socio-economical threads

Katowice hosts the mining industry's largest trade fair and is home to Europe's largest coal producer though it has become slowly transitioning to greener energies and alternative resources.

On top of this, almost half of the 82,000 jobs in Poland that rely on coal production are found in Katowice's wider metropolitan region of Upper Silesia, which partly explains why skepticism over renewable energy continues to dominate.

Coal and design


 In the context of a 3 days workshop, Katowice design school students (BA2) were asked to research, imagine, and propose new uses for coal as a material in future design applications that would apply to local production and circular economy systems.


Pictures credits : Roxane Lahidji