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Research Trip / Summer 2009 Shrinking Villages Travelogue / Collection of Strategies and Potential Scenarios in Valverde valley. Zamora, Spain

ADVA AD DVA VANC N ED ARCHIT NC TECTU URAL RESEA ARCH,, Colum mbia a Un Univ iversitty in th iv he Cityy of New Yo ork / Advisorr: Moji Barattloo / Proposal from Marta Guerra, MSAUD

Intro Location of Valverde valley in Zamora, Spain

This project researches rural shrinkage as a potential field for investigation and architectural performance. It is formulated in the larger context of contemporary’s lack of clear frameworks to deal with any pattern that may not be related to the modern idea of growth. The research here presented consists of the analysis of the spatial impact that ageing and rural migration have on villages in the area of Valverde Valley, in Zamora, Spain, as a case study for exploring the potential of shrinkage processes through re-imagining latent scenarios for these villages. This booklet is a collection of material gathered from the site, during the summer of 2009 in Valverde, Zamora (Spain)

Shrinkage as a field of study Like all rational practices of the past two centuries, the discipline of architecture has been centered on the assumption of growth. Current projections on world population and urbanization keep justifying this argument1. However, not all the cities and regions are growing. In the 1990s international studies showed that more than a quarter of large cities worldwide already shrank , and as a general foresight, it is estimated that between 2070-2100 the world population will reach its zenith; then, processes of growth and shrinkage will reach a balance, and decline will be as common as before industrialization began2. While there are clear approaches towards growth and development as additive philosophies, there are no evident frameworks for shrinkage or subtraction beyond contexts of decay and abandonment. Today it seems that the modern idea of growth is so firmly anchored in our thought processes that any reduction can only be interpreted as a loss. The challenge, consequently, seems to be rooted in the conceptualization of shrinkage as a design problem. Therefore, and


since the investigative framework on shrinkage is empirically based on case study analysis, the research on one example can be used as a tool for both understanding its specific patterns of change and reformulating this question. Rural areas suffer the double neglect of being excluded from standard statistic studies3. Today almost 3,000 Spanish villages (out of a total of more than 24,000, what represents a 12.5%) are abandoned and a non-registered number of them are immersed in disappearing processes. Ageing population, abandonment of agricultural activity, and youth flight to the city are some of the current issues. Latest polemics about the fight of several municipalities for hosting a nuclear cemetery, disregarding potential risks for its population with the only objective to “survive”, is only one sample of this situation, and despite the fact that Spain’s policies developed for them until date have focused in retaining population, this has been shrinking for the past 50 years.

“By 2030 more than a 60% of the world’s population will be living in urban areas”. UN Report, 2005 Atlas of shrinking cities, edited by Philipp Oswalt and Tim Rieniets.Ostfildern. (Hatje Cantz; Maidstone: Amalgamated Book Services , 2006) 3 Usually over 100,000 inhabitants 2

Intro Consequences of rural flight are also largely affecting Spanish landscapes, a manipulated natural system4: As livestock farmers abandon the land, wilderness takes over, leading to the homogenization of the landscape, loss of biodiversity, erosion and desertification of areas with propensity to aridity5. Through the analysis of a case study, Valverde valley (10 villages characterized by agriculture production since cattle is the first business to be abandoned), and under the certain process of change towards new social and economic models, one can realize that the rural is transitioning to emerging contemporary uses, and only human intervention can act as a trigger for new productive and ecological scenarios. Its abundant available land implies flexibility for other uses, as well as some immediate and bottom-up actions such as recent trends of eco-villages settled up by youths as an alternative to city lifestyle and self-reliance, slow-food followers, retired elderly, and anyone who wants to run from the crowded city due to its capacity to absorb and survive to economic, energy and ecological crisis. However, these new occupancies don’t really deal with the current social and economical problems in the rural environment; the identity of this landscape is not contemplative but productive, what forces us to rethink the rural as we have traditionally understood it: Are there alternatives to these obsolete policies? Can shrinkage be transformed into an opportunity for design interventions? There exists a need to explore alternatives to current policies, fly over the situation with certain perspective, free from prejudice and inertia, and build new models. The research will be used as a way to identify the opportunities beneath the Problem in order to re-conceptualize it and transform it into a Topic. Somehow, although we have all been and keep being trained to see in a certain way, there is a gap in thinking of this subject as a field for potential “architectural” performance. The role of the designer may be transitioning from thinking of objects to active agents in the formulation of catalysts and processes; in this sense, strategies and scenarios are intended to open up our imagination towards more creative ways of dealing with the unavoidable, because, if growth is physically impossible everywhere but we can’t find profitable provocations for shrinkage, who will want to embrace it? 4

Oshima, Tana. Mundo Rural: Un Paisaje sin Dueño, (Rural World, a Landscape without owner) National Congress on Environment, 2008. Available at 5 Ibid

The trip starts in Madrid. Once we pass the mountains, we enter Cast

illa y Leon, the largest spanish Autonomuos Community A large flat 23,283 acres of extension meseta. 600m above sea, Tierra de Campos are large lands of cereal in Valladolid

Places What should a designer know about this place? What are the invisible infrastructures, beyond physicalities?

The Emergence of Potential Scenarios The fact that the Spanish birth rate is one of the lowest in the world (1.14 per woman) will have an impact on its future demographic evolution during the first half of 21st Century. Statistics on the region of Castilla y Le贸n (INE, National Statistics Institute) estimate that in 10 years it will lose another 5% of its population, the second highest rate in Spain. This will require a reconfiguration of the landscapes, especially on the west (Zamora), where about a 26% of its population is already over 65 years old and holds a low density of 18,7 inhabitants/km2. This project addresses how migration movements and ageing have a reciprocal development on capital cities or larger towns, applying it to a specific case study. Benavente is a region in Zamora, characterized by agricultural and farming production valleys. Benavente is also the name of the biggest town (20.000 inhabitants), located at the cross of several national roads. It is currently absorbing rural migration from these nearby valleys. The abandonment of young generations, joined to ageing processes, stresses the urgency for provocations and ideas in these potentially abandoned villages.

The highest challenge in communicating -beyond facts and physycalities of a site- is to be able to transmit the SENSE OF PLACE...

...of somewhere that others have never been to... Let me take you through spaces


, people and sounds through my experience...

Let us start in the house. Doors are usually not locked. Everybody knows everyone. The street is a common patio.

Places “The voyage of discovery is not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes.� Marcel Proust

Provocations and Strategies for Shrinkage The analytical framework of the shrinking cities, towns and villages is empirically based on case study analysis. Since there are almost no proposals beyond policies, the project is intended to develop provocations and ideas to test and envision possible (and, why not, impossible) futures. In this sense, it will not try to give closed solutions but open-ended strategies, bringing to imagination different scenarios (dissolution into the landscape? Forcing revitalization? Displacing and concentrating population? New programs? ‌)

Methodology: Development of Tools Many of the international studies done on Shrinking Cities show a certain distance from the problem, which requires deep understanding, as well as grass-root and community level approaches. This detachment has led in several cases to drastic solutions such as abandonment or demolition. But it is my belief that there are many positive and creative ways to address this issue. Therefore, personal experience will be considered a powerful tool for understanding and registering reality and the starting point of the research program will be a field trip.

Low-tech simple houses made out of clay and mud (adobe) repeat all over the valley. This self built environment creates a strong

since some of these houses have belonged for generations to the same families. An informal se

sense of identity in the village’s inhabitants,

ettlement of Architecture without Architects.

Places Field Trip to Valverde valley in Zamora, Spain The main purpose of the reserach trip is to observe and capture the personal experience/reality by means of:

TER TE ERA ri r ver v

1. Photography and mapping -Register of memories and perceptions. Register of interviews, activities, morphologies. -Mapping different Landscapes and farming/agricultural/natural systems. Mapping current uses of (public) space. -Record of moving image, as a tool for understanding spatial relations and time processes. ALKING 30min W IKING B in 10m

-Development of maps of the area as analytical tools: Production of diagrams, drawings and sketches that stress the relationship between growth and shrinkage for further explorations and analysis.


-Scales of Context: local, regional, national, european, global.


-Context: Immigration, social, economical, spatial changes. Analysis of current and future social trends.

3 ,7 1km


2. Data Gathering






m 72km 3,7



m 4,93km

-Development of maps based on spatial information and statistics in comparison with registered information on site. -Analysis and comparison between the case study and background projects. -Research on economic policies that have shape and still continue shaping the landscape space.


3. Conceptual framework -Growth vs. Shrinkage (or Degrowth) -Natural vs. Artificial -Landscape as a Collective Memory -Rural vs. Urban (or (R)urban)

Villages are located 10 minutes away by bike. In the sumemr, you can see people in pairs taking long walks in th

Besides the larger lands, families own small orchards that are usually taken care by women. This self-suffici




e network of paths that communicate them. ent practice is still ongoing, where low-tech solutions for irrigation and greenhousing take place. Fruits, legumes and vegetables for the everyday cooking.



Benavente is the closest big town, with almost 20,000 inhabitants, where most of the services are. Some of the closer villa

A Historical city, where three rivers cross their waters, part of the Camino de Santiago (Way of St. James) Pilgrimage

Camino de Santiago Pilgrimage

ages are even experiencing some new developments for second-residences

e, and in the cross of several main roads, experiences an uneven mixed urbanism of Cultural Heritage and low quality of uncontrolled recent developments.


Although farming is dissappearing, seasonal growth in summertime brings relatives to the area. Many of these villages are evolv

ving towards a leisure-driven transformation.

Bather in Camarzana de Tera

Economic crisis attracts more people to the interior: “It is cheap and healthy. You can bike everywhere here. We have no beach, but we have rivers!�

Interviews (2009)

What is your profession? Do you like it living here? Why? What would you miss most if you lived in a city? What do you expect of your life to be like here in 15 years time? How do you imagine this valley in 50 years time?

Some of the questions asked to the interviewees were:

Meri (female, 50s) is in her fifties and Sergio (male, 40s) is in his forties

Luci (female, 40s) is a Benavente bar

Álvaro (male, 20s) is in his twenties

she is a High School teacher. She lives in Benavente and works also in the Council Urbanism Department. After talking about the topic (shrinking villages), she says she finds it interesting, but she can’t recall any special policy in regards to it. I ask about specific National Plans. She doesn’t know of any. Not even the Rural Development Policy (Ley de Desarrollo Rural), quite recent. This proves the indifference in which the topic is treated amongst politicians.

owner in her forties. She is natural from Pueblica de Valverde, but as soon as she could she moved into the town. She complains about the “easy” life of being a farmer, working a few months every year and making enough money with current european subsidies (PAC). People with large amount of land can afford to get European funds and recover part of losses if bad weather destroys produce, but small farmers don’t. She has no interest in farming as activity. She likes the life in the village for leisure but not for the everyday life. She mentions the lack of solidarity in and between villages. “I’m sick of that”.

and works in a metalwork industry in Ferreras. He is natural from Pueblica de Valverde. “These villages have to transform their land structure into larger plots, and industrialize agriculture in order to make it profitable”. He thinks American farms are way more efficient. He likes the village lifestyle but prefers to have money at the end of the month rather than worry about weather, crops, prices, etc. He believes in one owner and people working for them, with a salary, as well as sharing expensive infrastructure. He thinks it is a problem of current generation, which actually can be solved in next generation. “People from this generation don’t want to invest on new machinery because they think it is not worth it”. He wants to live here but not as a farmer. He appreciates and loves the landscape conditions and the quality of life.

and is the mayor of Milles de la Polvorosa, a village ten kilometers away Benavente with 500 inhabitants aprox. “People just want to live in peace, keeping their quality of life. Nursery homes don’t bring many jobs; they only employ a small percentage; It’s local but few work”. “Ecologic produce are only valuable close to big cities, such as Valladolid or Madrid, where people appreciate, but not here”. Iberdrola has an interest on land for Solar Panels due to subsidies. Produce is collected by an independent guy and takes it to Lerida. “These valleys will never be empty. They still give produce and in summer they have plenty of activity. Crisis has not had an impact. Aliste and Sanabria have abandoned villages, or with a maximum of 8 people, what means that they are basically empty”. Portuguese and Bulgarian (2) are part of a National Program to teach them to become shepherds. “Villages here are in a steady situation, But agricultural sector always suffers first. Shrinkage has been actually beneficial: there is more land for fewer neighbors; before, it was worse: there was little land for many people”. “People want money, stability, and have a quiet, simple and rich quality of life”.



(male, 40s) is in his forties and is a farmer in Pueblica de Valverde. He states to be the last generation that will be farming the land this way. His family doesn’t hire anyone, and with help from parents and friends in harvesting time, make enough for a family but not for more. (20.000 euros/year). “We live just the way we want to; we are not ambitious, we like it here”. They want their children to have a good education to be able to decide, although they would like them to keep farming. They complain they are paid very little for the produce. They sell it to an informal buyer because they make more money than selling it to a cooperative. He demonstrates no conscience about commons or the harm that not having these products checked can make. He states there is no network structure between villages, no common market, because everyone “fights on their own”. When asked about how he sees the village in 50 years, he says he has no idea. When asked if he would rent his land and just get profit form a larger owner, he says he hadn’t thought of that, ... but that he would if he gets money enough.


(female, 30s) is in her late thirties and is a farmer in Pueblica de Valverde. She is Nidito’s wife. She says they just spend on their “things”: “going to the bar and meet our friends, which is our only leisure”. She thinks there is no future in farming. She foresees it “as a leisure environment, nature coming in, a nature preserve, with animals, etc.”

Edilia (female, 70s) is in her seventies Afrodisio (male, 70s) is in his late and she is a former farmer, now retired, in Pueblica de Valverde. She was an emigrant in the 60s. She went to Munich, Germany, to work in a factory. Before that they used to live and work for the owner of a Dehesa. Later, they moved to Pueblica and built their house. They have been farming their land until now. They used to have also animals: donkeys, hens, pigs, and sheep. They only maintain hens at home now. Trading made life self-sufficient, but not anymore. She complains that villages don’t have a common network to operate, and that if they had done it, it would work better today. Now they have a problem with the cooperative because they owe them money, but it was dissolved. This makes a lot of people not trusting cooperatives anymore. She doesn’t foresee farming. “Here people are old and they don’t want to live in cities, but somehow they are forced to.”

seventies, he is Edilia’s husband, and he is also a former farmer in Pueblica de Valverde. He states the same as she does. He also adds that what doesn’t make sense is those little farming lands they used to have before the Reparcelacion Agraria (a policy for agrarian allotment compactation). He thinks that this “concentracion parcelaria” was actually a good measure, although many people didn’t agree, in order not to have later generations starving. He loves the peaceful environment of his land. He loves being surrounded by animals and gets depressed when he has to stay at home. He loves the everyday monotony with its almost imperceptible small changes.


Individual activity is very

Shared activities by pairs and fa

Saturday market and Summer festivals gather many groups of friends

y common. Contemplation, work, farm, play... maybe due to the access to large amount of open space. Informal trading patterns are very common as well

amilies: Saturday is the market day at Benavente. Many families bring their produce and crafts. Some areas are being transformed for leisure and services.

People “You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.” Buckminster Fuller

The Rural The rural is a controversial concept; it has different approaches in terms of definition and its geographic and economic meaning. Certainly, population full-time employed in agriculture in many rural areas is such a small number that the “rural” status has little to do with agrarian exploitations. However, a common characteristic seems to be the economic relationship between space and distance, although transportation and new media have created a network that passes through the locality. Plus, the rural identity is being influenced by global factors, uncontrolled locally, influencing in rural daily life. External investments such as daycare centers, agricultural “hobby”

residences for urban residents, second house residency, or new leisure exploitations are changing its character. Another difficulty when trying to delimit its extension is that rural areas are not so much in transition but in constant fluxes; this is, they hold a situation that sees problems coming without solutions and where the final or future result is not determined. I argue that the problem appears to be based on policies’ structuralism; they usually expect a process that foresees very little impact on space. Policies are arguable because conceptually they aim to increase the productivity, basing their roots in economic and social studies, but dismiss the intimate psychogeographic1 bind existing in rural societies.

Much of this information is based on Felisa Ceña Delgado, “Transformaciones del Mundo Rural y Politicas Agrarias” paper while in an exchange at the Agricultural and Applied Economics Department at Minnesota University, and published in Revista de Estuios Agro-sociales, Num. 162 (Oct-Dec. 1992). Available at 1

From Guy Debord’s term “Psychogeography”.

Life has it’s own rhythm there, tuned on the

Can we envision a spatial future in order to rethink policies that act as catalysts for that physical change, instead of constantly patching them with unexpected results? Can we understand the rural abandonment as an opportunity, instead of looking at it with infertile nostalgia? Can shrinkage be the new growth?

It can be said that there are mainly three interrelated meanings for what it is understood as rural: a) Socio-cultural definition. From an anthropological vision, it is supposed that behaviors and attitudes differ between low density areas (rural) versus high density areas (urban). b) Occupational definition. It is based in the assumption of the predominance of a primary activity (such as agriculture, fishing, forestation), which, as argued, should no longer be assumed, since the multi-activity of farmers in rural areas is a fact. c) Ecological definition. It considers “the rural” as areas where settlements are small, with substantial open landscapes between them, although these terms open new discussions for what its boundaries are.

Therefore, “the rural” (the same as “the urban”) as such is an indefinable and generic concept that can be used in a non precise way and in many different circumstances. Rural-urban continuum or Rurban appears as a new term: urban and rural are weaved in many commonalities and dependencies, where they are mainly distinguished for their relative population volume and density, as well as their relative isolation in relation to other settlements. Some other considerations should be the workforce, the local identity, the access to public services, or the maintenance of infrastructure. This rural world represents in the Europe Economic Community (EEC) an 80% of its territory, where about 40% of its population live.

e cycle of seasons. This is sustainable agriculture as it always was. On the table, vegetables, meat and wine come from the orchards and the fields nearby. source:

Textures Infrastructures The first official documentation of these villages dates from 1752, when Zenón de Semodevilla y Bengoechea “Marqués de la Ensenada”, President of Castilla y Leon, established a Decreto that ordered to create a Survey of all the villages, through a questionnaire that asked their villagers. It is especially interesting to note that they explained how some villages had already disappeared at that time, and their inhabitants had to split and move to the surrounding villages.

before 914 1080

1130 1210

1250 1480 1492

Christian Reconquest. Time phases

Soil in the wall

The fact that this place has never been designed but self constructed (apart from the Christian Reconquest that colonized the territory as a way of reclaiming the land), gives it a particular path of evolution left out from planning structures. Nodes localized at the cross of ancient paths (some of today’s roads), each one of the villages covers a surface of approximately 12 km² (this is 1,200 Ha, or 2964 Acres) and holds no more than 200 inhabitants. The Central Place Theory developed by Christaller, has been a clear exemplification of how self sufficient settlements have evolved around one mode of production, in this case, agriculture, colonizing the ground in the most efficient way. Located along water resources, villages are separated from each other

Mirror in the water

Ordered labyrinth

10 minutes biking or 30 minutes walking. But not all the villages are shrinking the same way. Even in a small piece of the territory like this, patterns of polarization are visible, and change affects differently: The ones located around Benavente are even growing, although they are changing their former farming landuse to leisure and services. One of the main problems these villages are said to face is the “lack of infrastructure”. Certainly, their hard infrastructure collapses during winter season due to lack of use: water pipes freeze, roads and paths become fozen and later flooded, isolating villages from each other and of course from main towns and cities. This forces the few people who still live there to move with their families in the city or town during the winter. However, although the soft infrastructure is the backbone that strengthens the community, it is only visible in the everyday: doctor and travelling vendors come twice a week, market is set up in Benavente every Saturday, the priest comes once a week and exceptionally when there is a funeral service or under previous petition, and schools in the villages would only open if there are 3 or more children (otherwise they are forced to study in a larger town).

Burnt to live


Produce also follows an unplanned path; most of the farmers prefer to do it the way their parents did and ignore National policies of produce control, selling it to a middleman that comes during the harvesting time and sell, again unofficially, in Galicia or Cataluña. These patterns of informal shared infrastructure in movement, and the fact that they have to share it, create a sense of community through an intricate social network where everybody knows everyone and news travel by word of mouth. Besides this character of temporality, there are some other identity elements, which here are called “objects” of semiotics: the church (with its repeated particular architecture features: Espadana), the water deposit, the adobe as the common construction material, the townhouse, the cellars, the church and the bar, where both social and family’s life are livelier. These infrastructures are fully used during the summer, when the panorama changes: youth invades these valley villages for three months (sons and grandsons) and harvesting, vintage and summer festivals are celebrated in every village.

Soft hair

Objects Semiotics Psychogeography was defined in 1955 by Guy Debord as “the study of the precise laws and specific effects of the geographical environment, consciously organized or not, on the emotions and behavior of individuals.” Place identity refers to a cluster of ideas about place and identity in the fields of geography, urban planning, urban design, landscape architecture, environmental psychology, and urban sociology/ ecological sociology. It concerns the meaning and significance of places for their inhabitants and users. Methodologies for understanding place identity primarily involve qualitative techniques, such as interviewing, participant observation, discourse analysis and mapping a range of physical elements. Some urban planners, urban designers and landscape architects use forms of deliberative planning, design charettes and participatory design with local communities as a way of working with place identity to transform existing places as well as create new ones. This kind of planning and design process is sometimes referred to as placemaking. Related to the worldwide movement to protect places with heritage significance, concerns have arisen about the loss of individuality and distinctiveness between different places as an effect of cultural globalization. source: Wikipedia

Repeated in every village, these “objects” represent physical elements of Identity; the commons of the psychogeography of this rural society.

Carro (Cart)

Adobe en ruinas (Mud house ruins)

La Fuente (Fountain deposit)

Patio Interior

Deposit (Water Deposit)

Señal (Traffic Sign)

Espantapajaros (Scarecrow)

Pozo y Noria (Well & Waterwheel)

Bodega (Cellar)

Manantial (Spring)

Espadaña (Church’s Front)


Upgrading process in Pueblica de Valverde: removing mud houses to rebuild them with brick.

Landscapes of Property Spanish (and Portuguese) traditional ways of production of economy and life have lasted longer than in other countries from Central and Western Europe, especially in rural habitats. Industrialization process started with delay at the end of 19th Century and it was shallower than in central European countries. 20th Century, with Civil War and its consequences delayed even more those change and adaptation processes. Tensions in rural environments were precisely cause of this war. Extreme fragmentation of properties in the North of Spain and Castilla y Leon contributed too. The central government top-down approach towards a compact allotment (concentracion parcelaria) was a measure done too late to allow a gradual adaptation to modern life needs and the desired integral development of rural space, as well as

it is too late to avoid the profound and ongoing crisis of rural habitats and its flight that starts in the 60s and 70s. The different allotments in Andalucia (South of Spain) and Castilla are a product of the political and economic multiple development. In the later, colonization processes have taken several more generations since the Christian Reconquest (from 722 AC until 1492 AC). Although there was an intense theoretical discussion in Spain around agrarian problems since the 18th Century, there weren’t strategies for compacting lots until 1950s. Since 1952 until 1982, almost 13.200.000 acres belonging to 1.700.000 owners have been re-arranged, and 15.500.000 lots have been transformed into 2.078.000, what means an average reduction of 7.47 to 1.1

1 Carl-Christoph Liss, “Evolucion y Estado de Actual de la Concentracion Parcelaria en España” published in its original german version in “Erdkunde”, 39, 1985, pag. 99-115. Available at

Heterogeneous constructed environment in Benavente

The identity of this landscape is not contemplative but productive. Parcels divided through many generations have created a non profitable landscape in a territory that has always been self-reliant. Today, their owners have rejected to invest anymore on new agricultural technologies or mechanization because pieces of land are too small to even overcome the cost of raising their produce. However, population shrinkage is helping those who decide to stay, as they can rent or buy more land, and therefore maintain its current use while making more profit. But, according to experts,

even this measure, useful 30 years ago, is insufficient nowadays, because produce now competes not just regionally but nationally and globally. As manifested by residents, this is probably the last generation that will take care of the land. If we have been lagging behind during the 20th Century, maybe we should be thinking ahead and aiming for a much more ambitious arrangement of allotments that can “save” this productive landscape from being completely abandoned in 30 years time.

Could this ‘rural-scape’ become a territory of large parcels owners? How would such operation affect the social space? What if these villages were not home for family-based agriculture economy but for leisure, service economies, and larger ownerships?


Family house

Solar Panels

Interior Patio (hens, pigs, pigeons, orchards)

Family orchard

Solar P

Inside the village, animals and orchards combined with housing

Fruit Trees

Outskirts of the village, fruit trees and vineyards


Family vineyard

Warehouse (goods and machinery)


Family orchard

Fruit Trees


Arable land (wheat)


Arable land, next to the road, combined with holm oaks


Irrigated land, parcels owned by a family

Fruit Trees


Wind Turbines

Wind Turbines

Wind Turbines

Poplar Tree Nursery Wind Turbines Fallow land

Village (Pueblica)


Dehesa (hill)

Cellars in the claddy hill

Village (Navianos de Valverde)

Fruits orchards Livestock farms

Arable land (wheat)

Elements of identity are present in every village morphology. (Navianos de Valverde)

Fruit exploitation (cherry)

Mountain range La Culebra

In betweens of villages, arable lands mixed with Dehesa*

Tree Nursery

Water Deposit

Arable land (corn)

* Dehesa: Manmade ecosystem. Type of wooded pastureland found in the Iberian peninsula, used for the grazing of

livestock (from Castilian for “pastureland”). Dehesas are communal property (usually belonging to the municipality), where residents can also obtain non-timber forest products such as wild game, mushrooms, and firewood. In economic terms, the exploitation of the dehesa usually coincides with areas that could be termed “marginal” because of both their limited agricultural potential (due to the poor quality of the soil) and the lack of an industrial fabric, which boils down to isolated agro-industries and very small capitalization.

source: Wikipedia Dehesa Arable lands

Landscapes Path between two villages (Pueblica - Morales)


Gilles Clement’s Third Landscape is very present in common areas that noone cleans. Wetlands very close to stream, usually flooded in winter season. Ar


Type of road that links two villages. More dehesa: Private agro-livestock exploitation from which multiple resources are obtained simultaneously

Former Livestock Farm (pigs) Stream

rea designated as commons for the village.

Mountain range La Culebra


Desertification due to abandonment of land (Aliste)

Vibrant community... only seasonally (Pueblica)

Two Discoveries on Space “Is space a social relation? Yes, certainly, but it is inherent in the relation of property (the ownership of land, in particular), it is also linked to the productive forces that fashion this land. Space is permeated with social relations; it is not only supported by social relations, but it also is produced by social relations. Space has its own reality in the current mode of production and society, with the same claims and in the same global process as merchandise, money, and capital.” Henry Lefebvre

Space is a Social Relation

Space is a Duality

An origin of the research is my personal experience with the site. This area, that has suffered a slow but predictable transformation since my childhood, nowadays faces an irreversible process that goes beyond the social injustice or the politic and economic neglect. The discoveries through the research are revealing that this type of rural shrinkage is actually a complex network of relationships, between social dynamics and land property, through multiple generations that have shaped a landscape and a strong sense of belonging which can’t be dissociated from each other.

Landscape is the product of the interaction of humans and their environment, but the sense of place can hardly be perceived by the outsider of a Landscape. The outsider is related to seeing, the gaze, Foucault’s power. The outsider’s interest is on facts, and understands the manufactured landscape from a distanced scenic, but he can also give an open-minded range of possibilities “to be invoked beyond those of the known and the everyday”, a “new and broader range of ideas to bear upon the site”1. The insider, however, is related to the sensibility; the idea of landscape is evaporated into the everyday or milieu. The insider sees how a place is structured around a community, establishing collective identity and meaning. His point of view embraces the sense of belonging, the roots of a place-called-home, its social practices and physical conditions that shape a locality.

The intention is to explore the tension between the Insider and the Outsider through the investigation and the unfolding of the information on the site, addressing the importance of respecting both the phenomenal specificity of sites (insider) while expanding them beyond obvious formulations (outsider). This research project is, therefore, found in a middle point; halfway gone, halfway back, encourages designers, planners and policy makers to look at the existing conditions as an opportunity for imagining new and future places.

1 James Corner on Dennis Cosgrove’s The Idea of Landscape in “Recovering landscape: essays in contemporary landscape architecture”. (Sparks, NV: Princeton Architectural Press, 1999)

Delivery The outcome represents a framework of what guidelines should be used and considered when projects should be proposed for this site. As an example, four different scenarios will be given as potential design proposals. It is a hybrid of text/imagery that contains the information to understand the site; a 1160 mm by 535 mm board presented as a folded map. The particular folding unveils common information on shrinkage and the research’s particular approach on one side, with the presentation of the problem, maps and visual data, causes and consequences of such phenomenon. The other side incorporates four potential scenarios, looking at specific characteristics and scales of the problem, compelling the subjective information: an openended matrix, readable in different ways (as it can also be folded in different ways) with the intention to stimulate imagination by means of a positive approach towards shrinkage. It is a generator for ideas– physical, imaginary or theoretical – or models, a guide to the site, an advocate for potential actions, a prelude for a trip, and an open invitation to the possible. It is reproducible (printable), open to commentaries (blog), and portable (foldable). Ultimately, what is intended is to understand how space (rural in this case) is produced and transformed, and to generate discussion around shrinkage, a field currently neglected by architecture discourses.

Many Thanks!

Moji Baratloo Robert Beauregard Mabel Wilson and Mathan, Alexandra, Pablo, Laura, Edilia, Raul Afrodisio, Carmen, Paco Nidito, Sergio, Luci, Alvaro, Meri, Emily, Julia, Ariel, Vivian, Edu V.

photos+maps I marta guerra pastrian

Marta Guerra Pastrian MSAUD+AAR, Columbia University, 2010


Travelog of the research trip taken during the summer of 2009 to Valverde Valley in Zamora (Spain), as part of the ongoing Research Project...