Towards Highlighting the Cultural Landscapes of the Coalfields
Learning from las Cuencas research project, awarded with the EU Prize for Cultural Heritage / Europa Nostra Awards 2015, provides a new perspective of industrial cultural landscapes. Despite being focused on a local environment, the coal mining area of the Cuencas Mineras Centrales of Asturias, among its interests is to create a universal architectural story. The mining areas, after undergoing an intense process of industrialisation, have changed considerably over a brief period of time. In just a few decades, what were once natural valleys with basically rural economic and social structures came to host busy urban agglomerations of unexpected density in their very heart. This heretical urban configuration is equally the result of the impact of economic interests in a specific space and in a relatively short lapse of time. Consequently, the co-existence of natural, rural, industrial and urban landscapes came about in a totally uncontrolled and unplanned fashion. The fuzzy limits between the different landscapes foreclose the possibility of identifying their areas of influence. The Cuencas are perceived as a mesh of opposing yet interconnected identities. This has given rise to incredibly heterodox building patterns that contain the conflict on which they are erected embedded in their genetic code. These are hybrid architectures, mutating artefacts which, despite the invisibility of their inevitable marginality, can offer really interesting lessons in architecture today.