castillo miras arquitectos: nazari tower restoration in huercal overa
original content
mar 13, 2013
castillo miras arquitectos: nazari tower restoration in huercal overa


‘tower restoration in huercal-overa’ by castillo-miras arquitectos, huercal-overa, spain
image © fernando alda
all images courtesy of castillo-miras arquitectos

 

 

the world is dotted with ancient artifacts and historic structures that throughout the years have passed from owner to owner and undergone various
transformations to suit contemporary needs. in the mountainous landscape of almeria, spain, in a small town called huercal-over, a military defense
tower on a raised enclave remains standing since the 13th century. it was originally built by the arab kingdom of nazari during their rule in spain when
their territories were being reduced to the southern andalusia region. the construct was part of a larger fortress that has long since been destroyed,
but the tower remains as a memory of its past, surrounded by hidden relics that date back to the bronze age. during the spanish civil war it was taken
over by military forces and repurposed as a bunker; new openings were made for machine gun access. a private owner then bought the property and
made basic alterations to indulge in their own needs during the following 50 years until the municipality acquired the land and commissioned spanish
practice castillo-miras arquitectos to carry out a renovation that would respect the historical significance and character of the dilapidated edifice.

 

the intervention aimed at restoring the construct to its original design, using known documentation and similar tower typologies of ancient arab
architecture to ensure morphological accuracy. it was decided to create a clear distinction between the new and old, to allow the added elements to
stand obviously separate from the existing and to let this dichotomy in turn present the relic as an observable, inhabitable artifact. the new components
have a temporary nature with no permanent foundations in the ground, they are designed as foreign objects contrasting the earth-tone tower.
the parking area was created relatively off-site, on an existing plateau. a path guides visitors to the information kiosk, a corten steel box whose
shipping container-like appearance emphasizes its relative transience. the path continues winding along the natural contours and topographical features
of the site peppered with stone block benches that seem to grow out of the ground, creating places to sit, rest and enjoy the landscape. as the original
entry is four meters off the ground, a corten steel circular staircase structure was placed – also without permanent foundations – next to the square tower,
allowing its materiality and form to contradict the language dictated by the earthen building. perforations in the stair envelope allow visitors periodic
views of the landscape and immediate site to help gain an understanding from a new perspective, until reaching the top where the front door is located
across from a view stretching miles over mountainous terrain into the horizon.

 

 


view from below the enclave
image © fernando alda

 

 

the restoration of the interior relied not so much on alien intervention but rather on the rejuvenation of the original design. the exterior mud walls were
cleaned off to unveil their true color; where the walls became too damaged they were reconstructed with a limestone mortar that fits into the context
while subtly exposing its difference from the existing material. interior additions were removed, newly punctured openings in the recent past were
re-closed; the inserted 20th-century floor tiles were removed and replaced with a floating wooden floor independent of the walls; the new plaster coating
on the interior partitions was eliminated to bring out the brick structure. the tower exists as it did over 800 years ago, recalling its powerful presence
in an ancient landscape, bringing to life an architecture designed and built by anonymous people, preserved for many years to come.

 

 


information kiosk of corten steel
image © fernando alda

 

 


path to the tower
image © fernando alda

 

   


image © fernando alda

 

 


approach around a winding trail
image © fernando alda

 

 


corten circular structure housing the stairs
image © fernando alda

 

 


entry to stair element
image © fernando alda

 

 


image © fernando alda

 

 


punctures in the structure allow various views
image © fernando alda

 

 


interior of stairs
image © fernando alda

 

 


view from the top
image © fernando alda

 

 


steel bridge from the stairs to the original door
image © fernando alda

 

 


doorway to the tower four meters off the ground
image © fernando alda

 

 


renovated interior with original brick and inserted wooden floor
image © fernando alda

 

 


reconstructed interior stairs based on similar tower typologies
image © fernando alda

 

 


original vaulted ceilings exposed
image © fernando alda

 

 


a preserved aperture recalling its more recent history
image © fernando alda

 

 

 


the original structure contained a staircase penetrating the hillside
image © fernando alda

 

 


original interior when it was taken over by the state
image © fernando alda

 

 


testing limestone mortars for color accuracy
image © fernando alda

 

 


installation of the staircase
image © fernando alda

 

 


wooden floor assembly is structural independent of the walls
image © fernando alda

 

 


repairing dilapidated walls
image © fernando alda

 

 

 


site plan

 

 


floor plan / level 0

 

 


floor plan / level 1

 

 


floor plan / level 2

 

 


floor plan / level 3

 

 


section

 

 


section

 

 


section

 

 


elevation

 

 


elevation

 

 


elevation

 

 


elevation

 

 

 project info:

 

 

project: tower restoration in huercal-overa
architects: castillo-miras arquitectos (mercedes miras varela. luis castillo villegas). www.castillomiras.es
client: consejeria de cultura de la junta de andalucia (andalusian regional government. department of cultural affairs).
location: huercal overa. almeria. spain.
project team: daniel lopez martinez. luis hervas lopez.
quantity surveyor: luis hervas lopez.
structural engineer: satec ingenieros s.l.
lighting consultant: lledo s.l.
archaeologist: entorno y vegetacion s.a.
contractor: costrucciones j.lorenzo s.l.
photos: fernando alda.
area of the whole intervention: 3483,47 m2.
costs: 639.239,74 €

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