The intervention has been awarded in the following calls: Prize in VIII Architecture Award COACYLE Burgos (February 2007), Prize at the VII Architecture Award Castilla y León (February 2009), FINALIST EUROPEAN AWARD URBAN PUBLIC SPACE 2008 (Centre of Contemporary Culture of Barcelona, the Cité de l'Architecture et du Patrimoine, Paris, The Architecture Foundation, London, the Nederlands Architectuurinstituut, Rotterdam, the Architekturzentrum Wien and the Museum of Finnish Architecture, Helsinki)
The environment of the fountain of Rubena, a small village near Burgos, is a place linked to inherited forms of life in the past. It contains a potro (horseshoeing structure) and a washing shed, and the birth of a stream running through the center carrying water to a set of gardens, while defining the way of access. The use of space was not feasible in many cases due to lack of soil drainage in the vicinity of the fountain and the growth of weeds in the path along the stream.
We propose an approach to the project from the perspective of the incorporation of a piece of natural landscape to the urban core. The intervention enhances the landscape values of an environment near a small town and turns it into a park with reduced resources connected to the urban fabric.
Different levels of reading the history of the place had to be put in value so as to make them visible. Reflection prior to the project focuses more on the historical and social aspects than in materials, for the aim is to understand the essence of the place. With this level of knowledge it is possible to provide an effective response to the current needs of the population. If there is social acceptance, the area will recover a use and the intervention will be sustainable.
The intervention recovers elements, controls vegetation and treats subtly the ground level to promote accessibility. A minimal intervention treatment has highlighted the existing structure associated with the course of water: fountain, washing shed and river bed. The edge of the creek has become a place for public use, creating a promenade with landscaping treatment: longitudinal pieces of concrete on the floor for easy accessibility and maintenance, and treatment of white limestone gabions highlight the route of the water and are at the same time an invitation to rest. It also involved recovering the old potro and clarifying the image of the building that houses the fountain.
The result of the intervention is to introduce a minimum proportion of artificiality through urbanization to highlight the natural qualities of a landscape by shifting their perception and carrying it out from urban. The space is back in use and the route of the fountain has been recovered as a passage and social relationship way.
Description of the work Initially the task is a recovery intervention of a set of patrimonial interest: the environment of the fountain, washing shed and potro, on a town border area. After the first analysis of the state, in which it is highlighted the environmental value of the area, the targets move towards the recovery of non-built heritage, in which become more present landscape, historical and social values.
The intervention is articulated around existing architectural elements, valuing them in different ways, and it extends to the natural environment. In the washing shed, a traditional building still in use and in good condition, the intervention is reduced to the elimination of an added woodshed and the conditioning of the immediate surrounding urbanization: cleaning, brush removal, drainage and sanitation relocation, and minimal pavement.
The potro, a simple wooden building with tiled roof, whose function has been missed in practice, the intervention is reduced to the consolidation of impaired assets. Its presence has been reduced over time to a memory of past practice, and in the whole intervention it is maintained as an element full of meaning, but without the functional content of the fountain or the washing shed.
The fountain, an element that binds to perfection its presence in the history of the place with its functional social and environmental value, appeared distorted by a recent banal construction. The project sets as main goals to prevent flooding and maintain their functionality and, secondly, to intervene in the image to reduce its impact: a washed concrete platform on the front, replacement of the existing pipes and the covering of the small building with slats of wood-cement.
Additional performances are aimed at maintaining and enhancing the use of the area and recover it as the town green space: accesses are redefined both from the south, where it runs a compacted gravel pavement, and from the east, with soft steps and a path supported by the natural slope, made with pieces of concrete embedded in the ground, and without affecting existing trees. Finally, the area of the river appears as the layout structure of the entire operation, by connecting the water-related construction elements (source and washing shed) via a walkway that gives access to an area of orchards with the core road network north. Along the river, the actions are reduced to improve the accessibility and highlight the existing values: cleaning, weeding, pruning of branches and paved concrete linear elements embedded in the site to control the vegetation and allow passage with wet ground.
Sustainability criteria Sustainability parameters applied were: low environmental impact, reversibility, contribution to maintenance, low impact, positive economic and social impact.
Energy. The design criteria generally optimize the use of materials and energy, to reduce resource consumption and to maintain natural values intact area of intervention. It minimizes the proceedings, especially the constructive. It maintains what exists almost entirely, with minimal demolition and the implementation of the pavement is reduced in most cases the placement of pieces on the ground without flatwork. The illumination level is reduced to the minimum, to maintain the natural character and moderate power consumption.
Water. The proposed solutions are oriented to allow the use of space even in unfavorable conditions of rain (essentially eliminating puddles). Drainage systems have been improved and firm step zones established without sealing the ground, so it retains its natural capacity to absorb water, which contributes to the maintenance of vegetation and the recovery of aquifers.
Materials. The intervention objectives are to minimize the environmental footprint associated with the use of materials and raw material consumption, and the use of components that pose the least possible environmental costs primarily from proximity criteria. The materials used are compatible with the natural environment: concrete, gravel, or sand mostly. Some, more constructive -as concrete- have a high degree of mimesis over time, integrating perfectly in the environment.
Environmental management. The almost invisible intervention pretends to enable recovery of more compatible uses that will be definitely having an impact on both conservation and in the return to natural heritage of this area.