This research has involved the study of traditional cave houses of "bajo Tajuña" from an historical and environmental point of view by assessing bioclimatic mechanisms to show its energy efficiency and its conditioning effects against external environment. As a result, researchers from Universidad Politécnica de Madrid and Universidad Alfonso X el Sabio with the support and funding of Fundación Diego de Sagredo, suggest various actions to preserve, recover and rehabilitate this endangered heritage.
The underground architecture -- underground dwellings, cave houses, Quintería silos, grain silos, warehouses, snow wells -- is a common type of Spanish popular architecture. The natural factors demand an adaptation of constructions to the medium, not only in terms of climatic conditions, but also in the use of constructive materials and techniques that depend on the availability in the environment and the capacity of user-builders to work with them.
The research aims to provide a systematic analysis of popular architecture excavated in the valle del Bajo Tajuña and surroundings on a typological and constructive level.
Specifically, this study is focused on cases of the southeast area of the Community of Madrid, around the valley of the Tajuña River. The delimitation of the study area comprises, apart from all the towns that follow this river (Carabaña, Tielmes, Perales de Tajuña, Morata de Tajuña and Titulcia), the village of Valdilecha, Valdelaguna, Chinchón, Valdearacete, Brea de Tajo, Estremera, Fuentidueña de Tajo and Villamanrique de Tajo. The last three villages are located at the Tajo basin.In spite of the proximity to Madrid, the cave-settlements at the Tajo basin have been not studied in depth. In this context, the authors, after a critical analysis, have completed the lack of typological, constructive knowledge and bioclimatic strategies. In fact, bioclimatic strategies are the most important aspect since it allows us to link the loss of tradition with the modern architecture.
The methodological process used was another contribution of the researchers involved in this study. This process is based on the combination of the compilation and study of documentary sources with the inventory and in situ graphical information about caves. The authors have developed a climatic analysis method of traditional architecture to study the traditional architecture suggesting that, popular knowledge affects the climate adaptation.
Thus, researchers defend that the right application of traditional knowledge is the best guarantee to achieve the social and environmental sustainability required by architecture. They also affirm that these architecture types have effectively responded to social and natural determinants being part of the heritage that not only must be protected but also understood.
The importance of these dwellings and the interest in disseminating their values is reflected on the presentation of the research results in several congresses and scientific meeting in La Habana (Cuba), Montreal (Canada) or Vila Nova de Cerveira (Portugal) between 2008 and 2013. Besides, many papers have been published in prestigious journals such as Building and Environment as well as the organization of university courses, workshops and seminars.
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