In November 2008 unit g walked 150 km of the Vía da Prata, part of the network of Jacobean routes that lead to Santiago de Compostela in Galicia, Spain. The Caminos form a network of routes that since the Middle Ages have been bringing pilgrims from allover Europe to the cathedral in Santiago. Since the 10th century the flow of people from various countries and cultures became the generator of a cultural network that had its manifestation in the construction of roads, bridges, churches, monasteries, hospitals and the growth and birth of new towns, based on the circulation of construction methods and techniques across Europe. The action of walking was for us a slow method of registration and understanding of the landscape, closely experiencing on our feet distance, scale, vegetation, geology, topography and the use of the territory. The slowness of our pace provided us with the opportunity to collect numerous precious fragments that allowed realising precise reconstructions of these places along our route. We have tried to remind ourselves of the importance and value of survey, developing an ability to draw and understand places in order to give a reading of their physical qualities, allowing for their reasons of being to emerge, for the changes that have undergone over time to be understood and for their sometimes hidden beauty to be revealed. Along the way we found refuge in albergues: a network of publicly run buildings on the Caminos that are intermediate destinations along the route, where pilgrims meet each other and find shelter overnight. This year our main project was to design an albergue along the route we walked. For the duration of the journey we lived like pilgrims, allowing us to understand their needs and requirements, testing and studying this programme and its influence on the life of the communities where are located. As we walked, we looked for places where the introduction of new architectures was capable of revealing, reinforcing or intensifying an already existing community, character or atmosphere. We chose to work with and next to constructions of great historical importance, in abandoned hamlets, in rural villages in a process of change and in urban open spaces when cities meet the landscape.
University of East London
Project: Between city & Landscape, albergues along de Rita de la Plata
Location: Galica, Spain
Coordinators and tutors: Aurora Armental Ruiz & Stefano Ciurlo Walker