Title: MIRA, cómo éRAMOS
School: University of Alicante
Tutor: MIGUEL MESA+ENRIQUE NIETO+PASCUAL SAURA
*The Neverending Story (or about the abandon of a patrimony)
Once upon a time there was a family, where each member, generation after generation, was enthusiastic about collecting properties. From the first generation on records, the Mira Cantó, Hermilo and Antonia, and the Mira Deltell, Miquel and Josefa, until the current heirs, the Mira Mira, have gathered around 15 properties, among houses and fields. All of them are located in the territory that circumscribes Pinoso, El Pinós, in the province of Alicante. Nevertheless, not all the houses had the same conditions. There were houses in the town, bound to urban family businesses; there were dome in the countryside, bound to the fields’ production, grapevines, olive trees, almond trees… and there were houses in the village, a hybrid between the other two. Through the years, the Mira-Miras legacy was drawn as an assortment of houses and fields, a heritage that yet, took them by surprise. The 4 siblings had settled away from the properties and origins, forming families and with jobs not related to the family business. And as time passed by, the houses started to get abandoned.
* One house for 4 families (3X4 + 1)
Once upon a time there were 4 heirs, the Mira-Miras. Recently they have received the family bequest, an undivided inheritance that gathered a family patrimony consisting of 15 properties. The siblings, unsuccessfully, tried to come up to an agreement to share it out. But the bounds were too strong (fondnesses and emotional links, use deals, specific languages, flooring and furniture,…) and the proposals too drastic. Not even with one house.
Chapter 1: Its history
The house of Cánovas Street belonged to the family for over a hundred years, or maybe it was the other way around. 3 generations had gathered memories and fondness, in and with it. The house was colonized as the family grew. The shared domesticity combined its permanent use with an occasional holiday use, and the achieved knowledge was based on experience and tradition. Nevertheless, contemporaneousness required changes, certain inherited spaces were outdated so the domestic space had to be rethought. Because it wasn’t a house for one big family, but a house for four families that were looking for a new way of living together. And the spaces kept were only those which use, with subtle changes, could be adapted to the new situation and, at the same time, they consolidated what would become the contemporary version of the collective house.
Chapter 2: Its construction
The 50 cm thickness bearing walls were the skeleton of the house. Their condition was good, however it wasn’t the same in the whole house. The rainwaters gathered through the years, in which maintenance was not a priority anymore, damaged critically the rooftops as well as the courtyard boundaries. The wooden beams and tie beams were starting to show rotting signs, the courtyard’s partition wall’s mortar rendering had come off due to the water effect, a wrong landing on the ground produced a crack on the dividing wall,… It was decided to keep as much as possible and reinforce the house construction. The foundations were underpinned, the walls were repainted, and the beams and tie beams that could be repaired were reused, even recovering spaces that were obsolete for a while.
Chapter 3: The hedonistic productivity
From time immemorial, the family businesses had a double productivity. The urban business and the one bounded to the lands. Cánovas street house gathered both. The main entrance gave access to Dr. Enrique Mira consulting room, while the back entrance directed to the wine cellar and the grapes treading area. As time passed by the wine cellar limited its use towards wine barrels storage and conservation. The slow process of abandonment meant a loss of the family wine tradition. It was thought then to enjoy its economy, turning the wine cellar into a hedonistic socially productive space, recovering the street tradition and the public consciousness over the private property. And, because of the location of the house, in the same space took place urban and domestic situations, apart from setting up a chance for the house to expand itself.
Chapter 4: 1>4 houses for 4 siblings (living together on your own)
Due to the inheritance indivisibility and because of the conflicts, wishes and needs of each sibling, a new way of co inhabiting was brought up. For each of the members and their families, individual and independent spaces were planned, connecting themselves through the collective house and with accesses to the street.
Faily’s house was entered by the main street. Her permeable access was obtained due to her social aspect and museum like intention. From the ground floor she would access the collective house through the recovered old doors from the lobby. Her house grew in height, as did the houses of her siblings. Halfway up the stairs there was the access to the courtyard. Faily, keen gardener, with her garden facing MJ’s set up the beginning of a hanging garden. The upper level, enlightened by a big hollow on the courtyard’s wall, bordered MJ’s first floor with a translucent surface that allowed to intuit, not to see.
María José, who kept a closer bond with the house, because she was the one among the 4 children that had lived longer in the house, had the access to her place through the collective house interior. Her house was developed in height from the courtyard expanding itself even over the street, with the lace curtain, ‘el visillo’. It had a courtyard-balcony that created also a hanging garden through its mechanisms over the collective house courtyard. MJ’s house held as well a privileged position, on a second floor, for the shared interests between her and her husband, watercolours and birdwatching.
Enrique used to go to the town seeking for the family environment; due to that his access was from the street behind, less circulated, through a very narrow staircase, that from the street you couldn’t guess where it was heading. His house was developed also in height, from the street behind to the greenhouse, where the access to the collective house was located. As Enrique was a priest this house was thought absolutely independent. He will leave the house to the Church and at one point it won’t longer belong to the family, restraining its accesses to the collective house. A little chapel was projected as a part of his own house, at the highest level of the whole house, whose walls filtered the light creating its own atmosphere. However, it was planned a special access to this chapel from the first floor courtyard for the family celebrations, from where the rest of the family, his 3 sisters and their own families, could gain access.
For Marina, who was the most familiar one, an accessible house from the street behind was thought, quieter and safer, where the closest family and friends used live. Her house was developed mostly on ground floor, the more longitudinal as possible for Marinita. Marinita, Marina’s elder daughter, with psychomotor issues, revolutionized Marina’s house and the whole project. The stairs meant a benefit for her joints, but only when going upstairs, while for going downstairs slides that combined need and fun were projected. All accesses were thought for her and the family business tradition was even recovered by a library spot at the main entrance, where she could let her social nature go on.
And so, through a new situation of the family and the house, the negotiation objects started establishing new roles, pacts and associations. New agreements among the siblings were required about the domestic objects for colonizing the ‘new’ houses while keeping their position in the collective house; but this is just the beginning of another story…
*The reader between the lines (or about the management of architecture and patrimony)
The intention was to rethink the future of the family patrimony, as a widespread situation, where houses start becoming ruins. To set out a hypothesis about this possible future, reading its history, managing and acting as an intermediary, facing contemporaneity, between the wishes and needs, and the architecture/object.