MADRID – Three ancient Spanish towns have been selected for architectural and historical restoration by a United States philanthropic foundation that announced its 2018-19 award winners on Wednesday.
The Richard H. Driehaus foundation’s Architecture Competition, an international event created to help preserve and revive local architectural and urban traditions, chose the historical towns of Guadix in Granada province, Bejar in Salamanca and Olite in Navarra for the third edition of its awards.
“Bejar has been selected by the Jury of the Competition because of its proposal to develop a project which aims to revitalize the area of La Antigua, the founding core of the town which is currently suffering the effects of depopulation,” the foundation said of one of the awards. “The idea is to carry out an intervention in the urban space around the Church of Santa Maria, an area where the Jewish Museum is also located, as well as various other buildings dating from the times of the local textile industry’s splendor, which today are in abeyance and abandoned.”
Driehaus is the wealthy financier, philanthropist and long-time admirer of Spain’s cultural legacy whose foundation “works to ensure that viable, healthy urban environments are designed to meet the needs of the humans who inhabit them.”
The foundation seeks to rescue fading architecture, artisan traditions and local builders and masons across Spain’s rural enclaves, thus projects using local materials, regional building techniques and employing regional building workers are strongly encouraged.
The selected towns competed against 11 municipalities that also submitted their architectural reform or preservation projects.
These proposals were reviewed by a jury composed of officials from Spain’s ministries of works and culture as well as the Spanish college of architects, among others.
Granada’s Guadix was chosen for its project to recover and rebuild the architectural ensemble crowning the town’s higher ground: the Alcazaba or old Moorish castle, its environs, and the revitalization of the Palacio de los Saavedra.
In Olite the foundation sought to rebuild and embellish the area between its 13th-century palace, the former seat of the old kings of Navarre, and the axis linking the Santa Maria (Gothic) and San Pedro (Romanesque and Gothic) churches.
Driehaus’ own words resume his vision: “Beauty, harmony, and context are hallmarks of classical architecture, thus fostering communities, enhancing the quality of our shared environment, and developing sustainable solutions through traditional materials.”