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case, agriculture, colonizing the ground in the most efficient way.

petition, and schools in the villages would only open if there are 3 or vintage and summer festivals are celebrated in
Located along water resources, villages are separated from each other more children (otherwise they are forced to more children
study in a larger(otherwise
town). they are forced to study in a larger town).

Soil in the wall Mirror in the water Ordered labyrinth Burnt to live Burnt to live Slippers Slippers Soft hair

This project researches rural shrinkage as a potential field for investigation

and architectural performance. It is formulated in the larger context of
contemporary’s lack of clear frameworks to deal with any pattern that may
not be related to the modern idea of growth.

The research here presented consists of the analysis of the spatial impact
that ageing and rural migration have on villages in the area of Valverde
Valley, in Zamora, Spain, as a case study for exploring the potential of
shrinkage processes through re-imagining latent scenarios for these

Advanced Architectural Research,

Columbia University

Shrinking Villages
Strategies and Potential Scenarios for Valverde Valley villages, Spain
Advisor: Mojdeh Baratloo, Fall coordinator UD Program

tags 2010, academic work, Columbia University * Article ‘Growing Backwards. Positive approaches to Shrinkage’
urban design, research, mapping to be published in New Model Cities, Columbia University, 2010
Shrinking Villages
global trends

The research is shaped

Panorama in an object with mutiple
angles, foldable and
readable in many ways,
structured and organized
All information and scenarios are compiled in a in order to be explained
and understood but part
Research Folded MAP of the same physicality
The particular folding unveils common information on shrinkage
and the research’s particular approach on one side, with the
SIDE A presentation of the problem, maps and visual data, causes and
consequences of such phenomenon. The other side incorporates
four potential scenarios, looking at specific characteristics and
scales of the problem, compelling the subjective information:
an open-ended matrix, readable in different ways (as it can
Scenario 1 Scenario 2 Scenario 3 Scenario 4 also be folded in different ways) with the intention to stimulate
S scale M scale L scale XL scale imagination by means of a positive approach towards shrinkage.
It is a generator for ideas– physical, imaginary or theoretical – or
models, a guide to the site, an advocate for potential actions, a
prelude for a trip, and an open invitation to the possible.




1. Print both sides. Side B goes upside down Both sides respond to the same question
2. Cut according to drawing in different ways. The first reading is an
3. Fold according to drawing, starting from upper parts of side B introduction of the problem in a global
4. Enjoy! context. When finished, you turn around
the cover and spread out the four exposed
issues of the case study, organized in
different scales. Different foldings will
create new and potential realtionships.

Downloadable @
Family house
Landscapes Church
Dehesa (hill) Cellars in the claddy hill Village (Navianos de Valverde) Tree Nursery
Fruits orchards
Livestock farms

Arable land (corn) Orchard

Arable land (wheat)

Main road
Elements of identity are present in every village morphology. (Navianos de Valverde)

* Dehesa: Manmade ecosystem. Type of wooded pastureland found in the Iberian peninsula, used for the grazing of livestock (from Castilian for Path between villages
“pastureland”). Dehesas are communal property (usually belonging to the municipality), where residents can also obtain non-timber forest products
such as wild game, mushrooms, and firewood. In economic terms, the exploitation of the dehesa usually coincides with areas that could be termed
“marginal” because of both their limited agricultural potential (due to the poor quality of the soil) and the lack of an industrial fabric, which boils
down to isolated agro-industries and very small capitalization.

RAA river



Irrigated Areas
BENAVENTE Insider vs. Outsider
RAA river
Dehesa insider, though, evaporates the idea of
The research is rooted in my personal
experience with the site. This area, that has landscape into the everyday or milieu, and sees
suffered a slow but predictable transformation how a place is structured around a community, REGION OF BENAVENTE

Flooding Areas establishing collective identity and meaning,

since my childhood, faces nowadays an
irreversible ecological deterioration that goes the roots of a place-called-home, and the social
beyond social injustice or political neglect. practices that shape a locality. Therefore, the
VALVERDE VALLEY The research has revealed that this type of exploration of the tension between the Insider LKING
30min WA

rural shrinkage is actually a complex network and the Outsider addresses the importance 10min BIK

of relationships interweaving social dynamics of respecting both the phenomenal specificity

of sites (insider) while expands them beyond

and land property which, through multiple
generations, have shaped a landscape and obvious formulations (outsider). This research
a strong sense of belonging. The sense of project is found in a middle point. Halfway gone, VALVERDE VALLEY

place can hardly be perceived by the outsider. halfway back, encourages designers, planners 3, 4

However, (s)he can also give an open-minded and policy makers to look at its existing patterns
range of possibilities to be invoked beyond as opportunities for imagining new and future
those of the known and the everyday. The places.

to Duero National Park V LVERDE

Protected by Plan Natura

Location of Valverde valley in Zamora, Spain

0 2KM
Agenda 2000 policy assigns funds for Rural
Development in villages, as well as the European CAP policy gives
a 5% of its support for the same purpose.

This money could be used for Survey Towers, located in each

village, which hold shared dense infrastructure that every village
will update depending on its inhabitants: WIFI, market place,
electric car chargers, water deposit, satellite connections, rent
space, and every possible use can take over and contribute to
each spot’s future.

Now it is up to each village to make the best out of it for their own
benefit, or let them go in a “natural” selection of disappearance,
turning into another element of identity of the landscape.

2025, mud houses have returned to their original material, 2040, Villages would keep their orchards morphology,
the ground. Survey towers are the witnesses of a future ruin larger pieces of collective land surround the outskirts,
with some intensive production under greenhouses,
and before land turning into dehesa again, agro-
business takes place. Productive landscapes
1960 patterns at different levels challenge the land ownership
Property consolidation done ABANDONED inheritage as the only possible scenario.
2013 2025 during the 70s established spatial and economical
consequences for land owners; those who put together Average property = 5,48 Ha
their parcels saw in the following generation an 2040 patterns 1960 Average lots per owner = 16,6
improvement of their quality of life. Today, parcels that
1987 Average lots per owner = 2,2
would be considered big 30 years ago are so small 1987 patterns
that are abandoned because they are not profitable.
2025, connected new generations coexist A collectivity of land would create a commons for
with “old fashioned” generations... machinery and investment, plus the government
would become the middlemen between owners and
businesses in the reassignment of land. 1960 1987 2040

SCENARIO 1 2000 2040 Collectivity of land. Larger ownerships.

Acupuncture Delimitation
Witnessing Landscapes of Historical Memories Re-Scaling Property Landscapes
Would new condensed physical spots of technology infrastructure
Could this ‘rural-scape’ become a territory of large parcels
in each village impact in the everyday use enhancing their informal
patterns in new forms of use to be yet discovered, or would they
just become observatories, witnesses of abandonment and slow WIFI

Farmers Market
Castles Route
Literature Route
Products of Local Food
Music Festivals
Agriculture Universities Associations
Storage network
Natural Heritage Corridors
Rural Tourism and Craftwork Association
Youth ecovillages
Summer Camp
Ghost towns

Hunting Reserve
Fire Testing Grounds
Dehesa (Gov. ownership)
Emergency fields
Energy areas

Natura 2000 policy protects areas

of high ecological value in Europe. A holistic plan
should also revise it taking the rural abandonment
into account, since it affects directly to existing
2030, water retention pools help to trigger new ecologies ecosystems. In future revisions, larger areas can be
and reconduct infrastructure problems into opportunities added to current arrangement. constructed wetlands,
pools, water deposit
2025, abandoned villages have taken part in a process of restructuring
spanish territory as a whole

A holistic plan for restructuring Spanish Abandoned villages (estimated) and Future AVE transit network (2009)
Current rural shrinkage affects large ecological and transit infrastructures
territory asks villages to subscribe and
create their own agendas and programs
in a vast system of networks, taking as an
advantage the big territorial
structure that the AVE
will advance. Free associations
constructued wetlands constructued wetlands (shifted property) from abandoned would encourage a dependency necessary
(shifted property) farmland to forest
water cleaning, retention, irrigation for regions to survive. Areas with no apparent
Network scenarios insearching of “voids” potential would become part of a National
think-tank to become part of the bigger picture
of reforestation or reuse.

SCENARIO 3 SCENARIO 4 The state of the agricultural economy is

Infiltration + Absorption Association chronicly oppressed in spite of massive
Triggering Rural Ecologies Networking Regional Events subsidies, enormous technical improvements,
and overseas markets. However, these “rural
Can shrinking villages be the triggers for new rural ecologies (and Is the association of shrinking villages a potential for problems” turn into urban problems. We have
therefore rural economies) and cultural sustainability? the conception of regional swarms of physical and separate government agencies in charge of
programmatic connections at a National, European and each of the symptoms, instead of managing
2010 2030 wholes, and policy decisions keep us operating
International level?
in linear frameworks.