Since the beginning of the economic crisis in 2008, almost one million people aged 16 to 30 have left Spain in search of employment abroad. The efforts of the government to solve this crisis have been disastrous, adopting measures of austerity that have only worsened living and working conditions for this generation of professionals. To counter this, the project proposes to relocate these people to a rural territory 90 km to the southwest of Madrid. This land, in its own crisis, is agricultural, isolated, demographically and economically depressed, and yet has the potential to rethink the future of these people.

 

The objective of the project is twofold. On the one hand, it is guided by the urgency to provide adequate living conditions for these people away from the pressures of the city. At the same time, it aspires to reconstruct the villages in the countryside that are economically and demographically in decay. For this to occur, the villages will first need to be reconnected through new and reinforced infrastructure to the larger network, allowing for commerce and transport to develop. An agricultural reform will follow, attempting to challenge the current status quo, where large corporations exploit the land as well as the farmers that work on them. A large field will be transformed to irrigation and divided into small plots with which settlers can become agriculturally self-sufficient.

 

The strategy for the design of the settlements responds to a scenario in which a vast amount of people may arrive to this territory, with the risk of villages eventually sprawling into the countryside. To avoid this, settlements take the form of linear buildings that frame the existing villages, supported by a policy in which future urban growth will only be allowed to take place towards the interior of the settlement. Each settlement is bespoke to the orientation of the village fabric as well as the size of the existing village. The roads radiating from the village will divide the settlement into self-sufficient sectors and serve to structure its construction into phases.

 

To minimize costs, the state builds only the minimum infrastructure necessary for habitation: structure, a roof, and a central core to which services can be attached, allowing the rest of the interior space to be appropriated according to personal will. The building material is rammed earth, which, found on the same site, requires almost no construction skills and can employ the same people who will eventually live there. The settlement building is in essence an extruded pitched roof, generous in size, giving it a collective character that binds the people together as opposed to the traditional apartments of the city and the isolated family houses of the suburbs.