The first students in the 2020 Challenge Program reach Territorio Mudéjar

The first students in the Challenge Program, which is funded by the DPZ and organized by the University of Zaragoza, are now at Territorio Mudéjar, learning and implementing applied cultural heritage management models. This is the third edition of this initiative, which enables university students to do internships in towns in the province of Zaragoza in order to encourage young people with good ideas come to – and stay – in rural settings.

“By showing students how we work with the heritage in these towns, we pave the way for them to choose how they want to focus their careers in the future, and we hope that this future is closely related to our region,” explains Victoria Trasobares, director of Territorio Mudéjar.

The group of Art History students participating in the Challenge Program –María Foradada, María Domínguez, Elena López and Sarai Salvo- have been living in Tobed, the town where the entity’s offices are located, since early August, learning about the working system there. They are joined by Eugenia Gallego, María Irazabal and Derry Holgado, working remotely.

The program’s first phase consists in an introduction to the entity and its working methods, familiarizing the students with the networking system and the partners involved: city councils, culture officials and individuals in charge of cultural and heritage dissemination programs, combining classroom learning with fieldwork. In addition, the students are being trained in the cultural heritage management project methodology by professionals in diverse disciplines such as project design and assessment, awareness of the applied management models implemented in our region, and in the fields of project dissemination management and communication.

The Challenge Program – now in its third edition – is aligned with Territorio Mudéjar’s strategic aim of fostering for-credit and training internships and professionalizing job profiles linked to heritage in order to boost employment in rural settings, attract professionals and develop projects that entail conservation of our heritage and investments in our towns as a distinguishing feature.

How is Territorio Mudéjar unique? It is a part of the rural setting, working with a network of 34 municipalities and numerous cross-disciplinary professionals, bolstered by the international renown afforded through the declaration of three monuments pertaining to the member towns as UNESCO World Heritage sites. Additionally, it is committed to professionalism, scientific rigor, innovation and sustainability, while also ensuring that the inhabitants of the towns are inextricably involved in the projects.

Territorio Mudéjar participates in the CortonaOpen3D workshop as an example of innovative heritage management

Territorio Mudéjar took part in the CortonaOpen3D workshop, a specialized course in computer graphics and smart city design applied to cultural heritage, which was held from August 1 to 10 in the Italian city of Cortona, in the province of Arezzo (Tuscany), to share its example of innovative management of artistic and historical heritage in a rural setting.

During this workshop, the participants work individually or as a group to develop an architectural design project or an art installation inserted into the context of the city of Cortona. To do this, they receive specialized training in different areas related to architecture.

In this regard, Victoria Trasobares, director of Territorio Mudéjar, gave a conference to explain the Territorio Mudéjar model “as a strategic example of heritage management: the project behind the projects”.

The lecture was streamed live from the town of Tobed and in it, Victoria Trasobares discussed how the Territorio Mudéjar network began and grew, outlined its activity program and, in line with the course contents, explained how a technological vision can guide the work of historical, artistic and cultural heritage management.

She also talked about the “Mudéjar Patrimonio Mundial 3D” (3D Mudejar World Heritage) project, a cross-disciplinary initiative led by Luis Agustín Hernández, architect and professor at the School of Engineering and Architecture of University of Zaragoza, aimed at revaluing Mudejar heritage. The project arose from the 2019 fieldwork grants and will continue in a major new cross-disciplinary, multi-university project between Spain and Italy. The University of Zaragoza (School of Engineering and Architecture, and the Art History department of the School of Humanities), the Polytechnic of Turin, Polytechnic of Milan and the University of Salerno will all take part.

In addition, the conference at CortonaOpen3D represented the first of numerous wide-ranging activities open to the students in the 2020 Challenge Program internships, an initiative funded by the Provincial Government of Zaragoza and managed by Universa, the job orientation and employment service of University of Zaragoza.

2019 Fieldwork: Mudejar heritage and learning, educational material: understanding heritage to appreciate it and create models for rural development

A cross-disciplinary team of seven researchers has developed the fieldwork project entitled Landscapecultural heritage and depopulation, which consists in preparing educational materials for secondary school students to work on the relationships between depopulation and cultural heritage in the Territorio Mudéjar towns as part of their classwork. The aim is for students to acquire skills that help them understand and appreciate this heritage and to come up with models and proposals for rural development in order to counteract depopulation trends.

The materials are openly available for use by other schools, thus also fostering knowledge about Mudejar heritage in towns beyond Territorio Mudéjar. They can be found at: https://paisaje-patrimonio-cultural-y-despoblacin-cmzgz.hub.arcgis.com/

These materials introduce the use of ICTs in the classroom, with tools that are similar to those already widely in use in the workplace, and they offer students a geographic analysis tool with which to work on the curriculum contents of the subject of Geography. They also provide an educational resource that promotes methodological and didactic renewal, and teachers can adapt them to the characteristics of the group or to specific students. Guidance, support and online training in the use and development of this application during the school year are also available.

The materials created are presented on a website arranged into several sections. Firstly, there are multimedia applications about specific theme-based content, which were prepared in Story Map Cascade, a template that combines narrative text, maps, images and multimedia content. In each application there are interactive maps for working with distinct layers of information, with activities and instructions for the students. There are also field project viewers that are used for planning, capturing, analyzing and presenting different projects carried out on site in relation to intangible heritage, natural heritage, cultural heritage and types of landscape. Finally, some brief explanatory videos about the interactive maps and their tools have been added.

This secondary school project complements the Territorio Mudéjar initiative for primary school entitled “Rural school as the start of the circle”, in which we aim to introduce heritage working methods into the curricula of rural schools. The objective is for students to understand and appreciate the heritage that surrounds them, thus strengthening their roots and identification with their region.

LINE OF RESEARCH: (2) Territorio Mudéjar and cultural landscape

THE AUTHORS:

  • Carlos Guallart Moreno, project coordinator, with a Bachelor’s Degree in Geography and History and a Master’s in Territorial and Environmental Organization, at Santa María del Pilar school (Zaragoza).
  • Noelia Cuartero Latorre, a graduate in Geography and Regional Planning from the University of Zaragoza.
  • María Felisa Ferraz Gracia, who holds a PhD in Information and Documentation, at Sagrado Corazón de Jesús school (Zaragoza).
  • María Laguna Marín-Yaseli, with a PhD in Geography, at El Salvador school (Zaragoza).
  • Alfredo Ollero Ojeda, with a PhD in Geography, University of Zaragoza
  • Beatriz Rodrigo Garza, holding a Bachelor’s Degree in Art History and a Master’s in Cultural Heritage Management, teacher at La Azucarera secondary school (Zaragoza)
  • Javier Velilla Gil, with a Bachelor’s Degree in Geography and History, and department head at El Portillo secondary school (Zaragoza).

2019 Fieldwork: 3D Mudejar World Heritage: digital graphic documentation and educational outreach to revalue Mudejar architecture

The 3D Mudejar World Heritage project is a cross-disciplinary initiative that proposes two complementary actions aimed at revaluing Mudejar heritage. On the one hand, several buildings were registered in a digital inventory and virtual reconstructions were created using a combination of 3D scanners, photogrammetry and drone filming. These include the collegiate church of Santa Maria in Calatayud, the church of Santa Tecla in Cervera de la Cañada and the church of La Virgen in Tobed, all of which have been declared UNESCO World Heritage sites, in addition to a previous project undertaken by the research team on the church of San Félix in Torralba, with subsequent work on the preliminary phase of work on the church of Santas Justa y Rufina. On the other, the materials were designed to bring data collection and analysis techniques and technology into educational settings in the Territorio Mudéjar towns. The first of these actions was scientific in nature, enabling the virtual reconstruction of these buildings and thus having a strong impact on the scientific community. The second, of a participatory nature, prompted value creation by pertaining to a brand image, Territorio Mudéjar, which has a significant impact on the inhabitants of these towns.

The virtual 3D building survey consists in capturing the actual geometry of a constructed building using the latest point cloud technology in order to replicate buildings with enough precision to provide information that is at least virtual about them in the event of any eventuality. A three-dimensional survey makes it possible to keep a highly precise copy of the current condition of a building so that it can be replicated; this aids in upkeep because geometric information, for example, can be used to simulate structures, moisture, etc. It is also useful in understanding the building and sharing knowledge about it, as an inventory with the three-dimensional models can be created and placed in 3D databases so that the building can be viewed and studied anywhere in the world. With a 3D printer, scale models can even be made.

The second action in this project entails initiatives for raising awareness among the inhabitants of the Territorio Mudéjar towns about the fact that they possess emblematic assets of universal value. The best way to create opinion and brand image – in this case, the Territorio Mudéjar brand – is through schools, given that the youth population is the most open to learning and the most sensitive to the digital world. Therefore, with a view to revaluing Mudejar art, didactic exhibitions and educational workshops at schools were proposed, in which teachers, AMPA and researchers take part, using the project-based learning method.

LINE OF RESEARCH: (1) New Perspectives on Mudejar Art

THE AUTHORS:

  • Luis Agustín Hernández, an architect with a PhD in Mechanical Engineering and professor at the School of Engineering and Architecture of the University of Zaragoza.
  • Miguel Sancho Mir, an architect with a PhD in Architectural Graphic Expression and professor at the School of Engineering and Architecture of the University of Zaragoza.
  • Beatriz Martin Domínguez, architect and professor at the Polytechnic School of Engineering in La Almunia, University of Zaragoza.

2019 Fieldwork: Mudejar plaster work, as used today: searching the memories of artisans for the keys to traditional production

The fieldwork project entitled Mudejar plaster work, as used today represented the next step in Pedro Bel’s doctoral thesis, which confirmed that Mudejar plaster production techniques remained unchanged until the mid-20th century. This research digs further into the traditional plaster production process to gain an in-depth understanding of it and to identify the catalysts and motives that led to changes in today’s plaster production, increasing its quantity and reducing its quality. During the project, former plaster artisans were located and their technique was documented, noting the variations today. In the process, quarries and former gypsum furnaces were also visited, documenting their conditions and creating a 3D photogrammetric survey at those of particular interest; a registry was also made to identify the region’s buildings with typical Mudejar plaster features. As stated in the conclusion, the ultimate aim is to revitalize work spaces linked to construction trades, re-activating them by creating a local business devoted to traditional or Mudejar plaster production.

The research took place in the towns of Aniñón, Borja, Calatayud, Daroca, Fuentes de Ebro, La Almunia de Doña Godina, Longares, Maluenda, Quinto de Ebro, Ricla, San Mateo de Gállego, Tauste, Terrer, Tobed, Villamayor, Villafeliche and Villar de los Navarros.

The study shows that traditional plaster production processes were prevalent until 1950, after which time the technology at the quarries began to develop rapidly. Those that failed to adapt quickly became obsolete and went bankrupt, making it commonplace to find gypsum plaster furnaces still intact and storerooms containing gypsum at the old Aragonese quarries. The semi-industrialization that took place in the fifties altered the traditional plaster made, and the change that had the greatest impact was when manual grinding was replaced with mechanical grinding procedures.

External factors that influenced this phenomenon include strong demographic growth stemming from a favorable economic and social setting, which led to strong demand, thus driving the pre-industrialization process.

LINE OF RESEARCH: (1) New Perspectives on Mudejar Art

THE AUTHOR: Pedro Bel Anzué is an architect with a PhD in Architectural Heritage Restoration from the University of Granada.

2019 Fieldwork: Mudejar civil architecture, a study on new uses with a regional impact

The project entitled Mudejar civil architecture, a study on new uses is a cross-disciplinary initiative in which a data input process has been developed for two main purposes. On the one hand, in order to obtain up-to-date, technologically advanced material on civil architecture with Mudejar elements within Territorio Mudéjar. On the other, to set up phase 0 of a monument management project aimed at putting these buildings to use, thus contributing to their sustainability, their role in society and their inclusion in village life.

This research falls within one of Territorio Mudéjar’s lines of action, which is to design new uses for heritage spaces: technical tours, teaching specific subjects, internships or other types of local activities.

The research is designed as an analytical study based on the management of Mudejar heritage in order to create a realistic action plan that will become a driving force for the cultural development of the local inhabitants and an integrating feature. Therefore, the starting point for the study was to consider the current conditions of the cultural assets themselves and their subsequent development, outlining action plans for each of the cases analyzed. Specifically, the heritage of Daroca, Ateca, Illueca, Borja and Saviñán was assessed.

The study implemented a method for recreating monuments in 3D using photogrammetry: images were taken with cameras and volumes were filmed with the help of drones. In addition, the action plans proposed were designed according to Osterwalder’s Business Model Canvas to develop the idea and Porter’s Five Forces Model for the competitive strategy.

Another reference taken into account in the project are the objectives sought in the European “Heritage Houses for Europe. Exchange and Innovate” project, which is based on measuring the positive impact of preserving family-owned heritage houses in Europe, analyzing innovative replicable business models, creating tools to support managers in the sustainable preservation of family-owned heritage houses, raising awareness on the family-owned heritage house sector and issuing recommendations to EU institutions for unleashing the sectors’ potential.

LINE OF RESEARCH: (3) Management of cultural heritage.

THE AUTHORS:

  • Ricardo Monreal Lafuente, art historian.
  • Alba Finol, art historian.
  • Daniel Finol, IT expert.

2019 Fieldwork: Vernacular architecture in Mudejar towns: traditional techniques as a trade for the future in rural areas

The project entitled Traditional vernacular architecture, traditional construction techniques as a trade for the future in rural areas explains how monumental Mudejar architecture uses some of the same materials and techniques as vernacular architecture in many towns. However, over the course of the 20th century industrial development has prompted an abrupt transformation and destruction of vernacular buildings and a gradual decline in traditional construction techniques. In light of this situation, the importance of understanding and appreciating traditional local architecture and its materials has been addressed with a view to ensuring that they are protected, by creating an inventory and conducting a general examination of materials, techniques, types of architecture and current use.

According to this research project, when building users have an understanding of traditional local architecture this will hinder them from replacing it with new buildings and will encourage them to turn to activities aimed at preserving these buildings. Furthermore, awareness of this architecture beyond the limits of the town increases the local inhabitants’ appreciation for it and helps boost the towns’ economy, enabling them to offer cultural experiences that move beyond mere tours of the most important monuments.

The project objectives include raising appreciation for traditional architecture within the area of influence of Aragonese Mudejar art by bolstering the perception of native construction techniques as reliable, sustainable systems and of the buildings made using these techniques as valuable cultural heritage that must be preserved and protected, disseminating and spotlighting the work of local construction-related artisans to promote the endurance of these trades and foster the use of traditional construction techniques in interventions on vernacular heritage, and encouraging the preservation, restoration and compatible renovation of traditional architecture in these settings, to promote the development of sustainable, culturally-friendly tourism.

To this end, the authors have identified and studied the main construction techniques present in the traditional architecture of the Mudejar villages of southern Zaragoza, locating the construction-related artisans working in this area and documenting their work; they have identified and studied the dynamics of intervention on traditional architecture prompted by tourism and have written guidelines for compatible intervention on traditional architecture in the area of influence of the Aragonese Mudejar.

The research work was done in Aniñón, Ateca, Belmonte de Gracián, Cervera de la Cañada, Cosuenda, Daroca, Longares, Maluenda, Romanos, Saviñán, Terrer, Tobed, Torralba de Ribota and Villafeliche.

LINE OF RESEARCH: (1) New Perspectives on Mudejar Art.

THE AUTHOR: Javier Gómez Patrocinio is an architect with a Master’s Degree in Architectural Heritage Preservation and a PhD in Building, Urban Planning and Landscape from the Polytechnic University of Valencia.