Learning from las Cuencas. The book


Sara López Arraiza, Nacho Ruiz Allén


Bis Dixit (graphic design), José Francisco Arias, Oscar Ávila, Basurama, Edu Comelles, Cómo crear historias, Antonio Corral Fernández, Bárbara Fluxá, Fran Meana, Marcos Martínez Merino, Mind Revolution, OSS Office for Strategic Spaces, Recetas Urbanas, Daniel Romero (artists), ACXT, Jose Manuel Álvarez, ECOSISTEMA URBANO, Miguel Ángel García-Pola, LONGO+ROLDÁN, MTM arquitectos, Rogelio Ruiz Fernández y Macario Luis González Astorga, TECTUM Ingeniería, ZIGZAG Arquitectura, ZON-E (architects), Jessica Carranza Muñoz, Teresa Jiménez Cuevas, Marina Kindelán Calvo, Enrique López Rodríguez, Marta Niño Saco, Mónica Ortíz Álvarez, Bárbara Palacios Orozco, Jerónimo Quevedo Cabrera, Hugo Anaximandro Rodríguez Rial, Marta Torres Párraga (ETSAM students), Lambe & Nieto, Stephen Thomas Wall (translations), Eujoa (typesetting, printing & binding)


Banco Sabadell Herrero, Laboral Centro de Arte y Creación Industrial

Collaborating institutions

Grupo de Investigación del Paisaje Cultural. GIPC – UPM Dirección General de Patrimonio. Consejería de Cultura y Deporte. Gobierno del Principado de Asturias Asociación de Comarcas Mineras. ACOM Asociación Arqueología Industrial, Patrimonio Cultural y Natural. INCUNA The International Committee for the Conservation of the Industrial Heritage. TICCIH España. Colegio Oficial de Arquitectos de Asturias. COAA Sociedad Geológica Asturiana. SOGEAS Real Instituto de Estudios Asturianos. RIDEA, Archivo del Grupo Duro Felguera de Langreo Archivo Histórico de Hunosa, Pozo Fondón, Langreo Archivo Histórico Minero Archivo Histórico Ortiz y Sobrinos Archivo Histórico Asturiana de Zinc S.A., Castrillón Asociación Cultural “Amigos del Valle de La Güeria” Asociación Cultural y Minera Santa Bárbara, Mieres Centro de Interpretación Armando Palacio Valdés EMULSA. Empresa Municipal de Servicios de Medio Ambiente Urbano de Gijón Fondo gráfico y documental del Museo de la Memoria, San Martín del Rey Aurelio FMCE y UP. Fundación Municipal de Cultura, Educación y Universidad Popular de Gijón Instituto Geológico y Minero de España MUMi, Museo de la Minería y de la Industria, El Entrego Museo del Ferrocarril de Asturias, Gijón Muséu del Pueblu d’Asturies, Gijón MUSI, Museo de la Siderurgia de Asturias, Langreo Portal “Memoria Digital de Asturias”.

Graphic design

Sara López Arraiza






Prize (2016) - XIII Spanish Architecture Biennial. Research Category. Madrid, Spain
Shortlisted (2015) – DAM Architectural Book Award. Frankfurt, Germany
Shortlisted (2015) – Premios FAD. Thinking and Criticism. Barcelona, Spain
Silver Medal (2015) – Independent Publisher Book Awards. New York, USA
Laureate (2015) – EU Prize for Cultural Heritage / Europa Nostra Awards. Oslo, Norway
Selected (2015) – IV Cultural Spanish-German Conference. Architectus Omnibus. Berlin, Germany
Selected (2015) – Fetsac’15, A Coruña School of Architecture Festival. A Coruña, Spain
Runner up (2015) – XXII Asturias Architecture Award. Oviedo, Spain
Mention (2014) – IX Ibero-American Biennial of Architecture and Urbanism. Research Category. Rosario, Argentina

LEARNING FROM LAS CUENCAS provides a new perspective of mining 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 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.

In analysing them we endeavour to show new windows of opportunity in contemporary architectural thought and to transform the conventional image of the Cuencas, a place which has been systematically overlooked yet which, when analysed from an unprejudiced point of view, represents a unique environment within Europe’s urban structure.