Restoration of two snow wells in Sierra Espuña

Ecoproyecta as Architects

This project emerged as a result of the comprehensive Master Plan for the Snow Wells of Sierra Espuña, involving an exhaustive cataloging and analysis of the conservation status of these historic ice structures. In November 2022, the wells were officially designated a Cultural Heritage Site (BIC), a significant acknowledgment of their ethnographic importance within the cultural landscape.

Within the Master Plan, the restoration of wells number 11 and 13 was highlighted as a critical undertaking due to their distinctive features, accessibility, and conservation urgency. Despite substantial damage, including the collapse of substantial portions of their domes, both wells retained enough structural integrity and historical data for a successful recovery effort.

photo_credit David Frutos
David Frutos
photo_credit David Frutos
David Frutos

Objectives and Restoration Methodology: Meeting the Challenge of Traditional Techniques and Materials
The primary focus of this endeavor was the holistic restoration of the two wells, aiming to revive their original architectural forms and serve as complete exemplars among the 28 wells. Traditional construction methods and materials, including stone and brick masonry, combined with lime mortar, were employed to ensure a faithful restoration. Previous restoration attempts had deviated from traditional techniques, utilizing metal structures, a departure rectified in this restoration initiative.

photo_credit David Frutos
David Frutos
photo_credit David Frutos
David Frutos

Preserving Cultural Heritage while Nurturing Natural Ecosystem: A Multidisciplinary Approach by Ecoproyecta
This initiative was distinctive for its dual focus on restoring the cultural heritage of these structures while simultaneously highlighting the natural heritage of the surrounding enclave. Spearheaded by Ecoproyecta, the project was carried out by a multidisciplinary team, including engineers, historians, archaeologists, and botanists. The team's collaborative effort underscored the integration of architectural restoration with the revitalization of the surrounding natural ecosystem, demonstrating a holistic approach to heritage preservation.

photo_credit David Frutos
David Frutos

Distinguishing Two Construction Systems
Two distinct typologies emerged during the project: well number 11 featured a mixed construction dome (stone/brick), while well number 13 showcased a layered stone masonry dome. These variations resulted in domes with unique shapes, one resembling a hemisphere and the other a cone. The deliberate use of traditional construction systems preserved the authentic character of these distinct typologies.

photo_credit David Frutos
David Frutos

Enhancing the Visitor Experience
Rather than restoring the original function of the wells, which has lost relevance in contemporary times, the focus shifted towards facilitating an immersive and educational experience for visitors. To enhance accessibility and engagement, new access elements, including an observation deck and staircase in well 11, along with a walkway spanning the void in well 13, were thoughtfully integrated. Crafted from wood, these elements were deliberately designed to juxtapose the original materials, providing visitors with an informative journey through history.

photo_credit David Frutos
David Frutos

Team:
Architect: Ecoproyecta 
Contractor: Patrimonio Inteligente
Structural engineering: Qube
Photo credits: David Frutos

photo_credit David Frutos
David Frutos

Material Used:
1. Facade cladding: Stone masonry and handmade brick with lime mortar
2. Flooring: Lime mortar
3. Doors: No doors
4. Windows: No windows
5. Interior lighting: No lightning
6. Interior furniture: No furniture
7. Staircase and lookout: Wood frame

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