Close
search
Un-built
Imaginary
Conversations
Before all of this was Countryside
Reviewing the notion of "rural" within the La Mancia landscape through a contemporary practice

The project tries to break with the stagnant idea of rural life, reject the vision picturesque and caricatured that ignores the real problems of these territories. In this way, under a thought that accepts the reality of these places as they are, we can give an answer to a rural Spain that demands a review of past promises, for those who live in this new La Mancha landscape. A phantom development of 54 homes over 200m long is intervened, generating spaces that reinterpret popular architecture with a contemporary language.

The project was developed during the Post-occupation of exhausted territories course at the School of Architecture of Madrid (ETSAM).

KOOZ What prompted the project?

JMB Being a provincial from the south of Spain surely has its advantages; having grown up near the countryside and ending up living in a big city has ignited a debate that took place during the long trips back and forth. Somehow, I have always felt more like a rural than an urban. I believe that ‘who is going to live here’ or ‘how are these places going to evolve’ are matters of my concern, therefore, as a citizen and rural architect I have a responsibility.

The growing depopulation and climate change in these rural areas have affected most of our territories. In comparison with other European countries, in Spain this imbalance takes place in a more pressing way: the country’s large surface area and the influence of large cities have prompted, during different historical periods, massive migration from rural areas, resulting in areas of the Spanish territory with a lower population density than Finnish Lapland. Finding a way to inhabit this rural setting, which threatens those who live in it or which, in other cases, happen to be unoccupied and waiting to be transformed, arouses an interest for us to develop this line of work.

KOOZ What questions does the project raise and which ones does it address

JMB It is true that by the end of the project a series of questions are addressed about the language of architecture in these places or its relevance to this problem. However, the reality is that all along we have been seeking to ask the appropriate questions so as to understand the territory being intervened.

Is rural a diverse concept? How much does rural have to do with heritage? Can you be rural apart from a territory? Is it our idealized vision that discriminates the rural? Rural and contemporary?

Therefore, the building attempts to open a topic for debate, it aims to raise doubts and concerns about the rural environment; sometimes by caricaturing and others by treating it with greater sensibility. It invites us to dialogue and reflect; thus, making us part of it.

Is rural a diverse concept? How much does rural have to do with heritage? Can you be rural apart from a territory? Rural and contemporary?

KOOZ How does the project understand and define the notions of rural and territory?

JMB One of the most important aspects of this project is its reflection on the dependence of these two concepts: what is rural or what determines rural.
It´s believed that there is an act-effect between them, depending on which territories we are in, there will be a rural result. It’s about taking the role of the ‘local architect’ and taking greater interest in what happens in these places and what sets them apart. For instance, the province of Ciudad Real, unlike other Spanish rural areas, takes greater influence from the different industries consolidated over the years, establishing a more standardized architecture in which the economic engine of the region has shaped the environment: industrial estates or large urban developments are the protagonists of these places. On account of that, the general strategy of the project is to host one of these urban developments, conceiving them as part of the territory: a rurality is lived but they are inhabited in a different way, the concept is the same but the territory proposes another way of carrying it out.

KOOZ How does the project seek to operate within these landscapes?

JMB As soon as you start paying attention to this Castilla La Mancha landscape, you realize the constant presence of its marked horizontality and the architecture that surrounds it.

An architecture which, as previously stated, tends towards a more standardized language, as opposed to other rural areas architecture based on small traditional stone and tile-covered buildings. For this reason, the project accompanies the materiality of this technified landscape, as well as its uses. There is a program available which can adapt to the different situations the inhabitants of the area require.

This architectural language, in addition to accompanying the landscape, generates spaces capable of undergoing program changes; it operates as a large industrial warehouse with social and environmental thinking.

1/4

KOOZ What is ultimately the objective of the project?

JMB The intention of this project is that the adaptability of the architecture endures the passing of time. In other words, as part of a series of transformations in which the limits of use are blurred, what used to be a field, and today is a real estate in ruins, tomorrow can become a large warehouse, from a cultural center to a shelter, or even a parking lot.

Ultimately, this is a project that tries to break with the stagnant idea of rural life, reject the picturesque and caricatured vision that ignores the real problems of these territories. Accordingly, under a thought that accepts the reality of these places as they are, we can give an answer to the rural Spain demands of a revision of past promises for those who live in this new La Mancha landscape.

KOOZ What is for you the power of the architectural imaginary?

JMB As architects, we must be insightful and extract the utopias that are inadvertently posed on the scene of our daily life, because as Gaudí explained, our search for the original is found in our origins.

Moderator
Published
21 Jan 2022
Reading time
8 minutes
Share
Related Articles by topic Student projects
Related Articles by topic Tool for Critical Thinking