BIOTOPOS is a research project on the relationship of the human being with nature through the analysis of concepts that affect architecture such as space, scale and time.
I believe that the architecture should be much more sensitive with the places where it is based, aiming to create synergy between nature, history and added architecture. The Laciana Valley seemed to me an interesting place to raise this question, due to the coexistence of two of its realities : on the one hand, the economic-cultural heritage of coal mining and, on the other, the natural biodiversity Laciana, both signs of identity but in conflict due to the deterioration that the mining activity has caused in the natural environment.
I propose to work both the nature and its laws as the remains of the mining holocaust in an unprejudiced and direct manner. If you observe this reality leaving behind the old term “good and bad” you can see the great beauty and potential that both signs of identity can present together. The abruptness of the mining activities and the traces left behind by them prevail as powerful landscapes and testimonies of the consequences that our ways of life have in nature. The open pit mines are like great wounds in the landscape but at the same time they contain a lot of beauty for its overwhelming atmosphere and scale. As Edward Burtynstky, author of the documentary “Manufactured Landscapes”, contemplates these landscapes transformed by man represent a “forbidden pleasure”, since the admiration of their beauty collides with certain feelings of guilt by the consequences that our ways of life have in nature. “
The giant scale of the mines and the field of action presents a unique challenge and the possibility of wondering about the size in the architecture. As Charles and Ray Eames showed in “Powers of Ten”, the size of things is relative in the universe and every entity is organized with others of equal magnitude (local scale), giving rise to entities of greater magnitude (global scale). Can you inhabit the large hectares that occupy the traces of mining from the relationship and combination of elements of magnitude millimeter, designed meticulously and in detail ?
This approach gives rise to a system that operates at different scales simultaneously, creating a diverse network of interventions, uses and situations. The course of time is considered as another factor affecting design, and different solutions are established at specific times but their duration and evolution is not limited to a strict structure if not flexible and dependent on users, the development of new nature or other factors.
BIOTOPOS is an investigation of some “parameters to create SPACE” that contemplate both visible phenomena (structure, lighting, color…) and “invisible” laws that govern the world of substances and materials (humidity, temperature…), with the aim of approaching the language of nature to enhance dialogue and symbiosis with it. These parameters for the creation of spaces over time, ultimately establish the uniform environmental conditions for the development of certain human, animal or plant activities. This resembles what the German zoologist Emst Haeckel means “BIOTOPO”, which literally means environment of life. For the development and evolution of biotopes, the balance and interaction between environmental factors (water, soil, geographic features, climatic phenomena and living things) is fundamental.
Thus, in each of the sites abandoned by mining, the different devices settle and combine with each other, to give rise to a network of ecosystems that allow the reinterpretation of the place. The whole valley is transformed with a unifying and at the same time diverse atmosphere. A new landscape.
Location: Laciana, Spain
University: Escuela Técnica Superior de Arquitectura de Madrid
Semester: Master Project
Teaching: Maria Jose Aranguren