Fieldwork 2020: Mudetrad, vernacular architecture itineraries in Mudejar villages

The project considers the importance of knowledge and valuation of the local traditional architecture in order to guarantee its protection. Its understanding and appreciation by users avoids its replacement by new buildings and encourages the development of activities aimed at its conservation. The projection of this architecture outside the municipality reinforces its appreciation by the local population and contributes to connecting territories with similar circumstances. For this preservation to take place in a compatible way, it is essential to offer owners alternative techniques to the use of generic industrial materials which, like hollow brick or cement, do not correspond to the nature and character of traditional buildings. In this sense, the work of local craftsmen who are familiar with traditional building techniques is key to bridging the gap between conservation theory and the day-to-day reality.

The work previously carried out in zone 1 has allowed for the extensive study of the construction techniques present in the local traditional architecture, the analysis of the intervention dynamics that affect it and the identification of craftsmen and construction professionals present in the area. The results have identified a number of needs and opportunities:

  • In general, there is a poor appreciation of traditional architecture and a general lack of knowledge of traditional building techniques. This often leads to the systematic elimination of historical elements and their replacement by industrialised solutions that are often hidden behind a stereotypical rustic finish.
  • At the start of projects, developers are often unaware of town planning regulations and current heritage legislation, as well as the architectural requirements established by the administration to obtain a certificate of occupancy in the case of housing or an opening licence in the case of businesses.
  • There are recurrent prejudices that prioritise replacement over repair and that claim that restoring a building is more expensive than renovating it. This belief has little basis in reality, as the higher unit cost of restoration work is usually compensated by a smaller volume of work.
Based on the research and diagnostic work carried out so far, this project aims to develop tools and implement a programme of training and awareness-raising actions to help address the identified needs. In doing so, it aims to meet the following general objectives:

  1. To contribute to the valuation of traditional architecture in the area of influence of Aragonese Mudejar art, fostering the perception of the construction techniques present as solvent and sustainable systems, and of the buildings constructed with them as a valuable cultural heritage that needs to be preserved and protected.
  2. To value the work of construction craftsmen and contribute to an increase in the demand for craft trades, in order to facilitate the survival of the local construction culture and encourage the use of traditional construction techniques in interventions in the vernacular heritage.
  3. To foster the conservation, restoration and compatible rehabilitation of traditional architecture and to promote the regeneration of the rural territory through its heritage, proposing alternative uses beyond the tourist sector and offering tools that allow for the development of interventions that are compatible and respectful of the local cultural identity.
Based on these general objectives, it is possible to propose a series of specific objectives that this work aims to achieve:

  1. To help promoters to improve the compatibility of interventions in traditional architecture, developing accessible and user-friendly tools and offering personalised technical advice.
  2. Encourage the supply and demand of traditional trades, making the virtues and the real cost of these techniques visible and contributing to the formation of a professional network of territorial scope. Vernacular architecture in the Mudejar villages in the south of Zaragoza: Tools and networks for adaptive reuse and compatible intervention.
  3. To improve local communities’ knowledge of the traditional architecture of the area and reduce the perception of its conservation as wasteful. This objective will be developed through direct and indirect actions of dissemination and social participation.
  4. To project the vernacular heritage of the region and generate connections with other territories, making this traditional architecture visible and sharing experiences and resources with regions facing similar problems.
LINE OF RESEARCH: Territorio Mudéjar and cultural landscape; cultural heritage management.

THE AUTHORS: F. Javier Gómez Patrocinio Laura Villacampa Crespo