Historic Preservation and Adaptive Reuse
Historic preservation is a central development issue in the Iberian Penninsula. With a rich history dating to pre-Roman times and countless structures literally hundreds of years old, preservation and adaptive reuse is the primary method of maintaining the character of the charming towns and cities in Spain and Portugal. Some interesting and innovative techniques have been adopted in this endeaver, as it takes extreme skill to work with such old structures in the confined spaces offered by most pre-industrial age cities in Spain/Portugal.
This photo (left) was taken in the town of Toledo, Spain. The goal is apparently to preserve the original brick and plaster facade of the building and reconstruct the interior. Notice the tightness of space around the site, as well as the use of neighboring buildings as anchors and supports for the scaffolding system, which is doubling as a form of support for the facade. Upon further inspection of this and similar projects, it seems that the interior of the building will be supported by a steel frame system that is added during the course of the renovation. The original facade will then be attached to this steel frame in some way, and therefore become a nonstructural facade. Power lines and other infrastructure have been retrofitted to the exterior of buildings in older towns; clearly evident in this photo.
This photo illustrates a host of issues with adaptive reuse of historic structures in Toledo, Spain. The original interior of this structure has been completely removed to the foundation, and a reconstruction is currently under way. Due to the lack of space around the site materials have either been stored at another location or deliveries are carefully timed so that all materials delivered to the site are used the same day. The use of the tower crane here is typical of most construction in the tight-knit old cities of Spain. Small, windy roads and steep hills prevent mobile cranes from accessing a lot of construction sites, so the tower crane is the method of choice for even small residential construction. Notice the large concrete pad that has been poured in the center of the site. Presumably this will be built around and abandoned once the project reaches completion. The cost of tower crane rental for the duration of a project as well as the cubic footage abandoned to the concrete pad must add a tremendous cost to this type of project!
Renewable Energy Systems
The Iberian Penninsula is a world leader in development and deployment of renewable energy technology. Spain has embarked on an aggressive solar and wind energy developoment campaign and currently boasts some of the world's largest solar and wind farms. Next door, Portugal boasts the fastest growing renewable energy sector in the developed world. The Portugese have set a national goal of 45% renewable energy by 2015, and they seem to be well on their way to reaching that goal. Additionally, the Portugese have deployed the first wave-energy capturing machine on the planet. Several exciting renewable projects were sited on our travels through the penninsula.
Examples abound of small scale photovoltaic energy systems incorporated into residential and commercial structures. This array (pictured at left) was encountered on a rooftop in Madrid, Spain. The 29 panel system could possibly produce around 10kw of electricity to be fed into the local grid. Such a small amount of energy cannot be used to power whole buildings, but small scale PV deployment can provide valuable peak-load control on a national basis and perhaps reduce the need to construct new centralized power plants.
Hopefully this highlight of several important construction and development features in Spain and Portugal has helped raise awareness and knowledge of the progressive sustainability policies on the Iberian Penninsula. Future blog entries will touch on other aspects of construction encountered on this exciting visit to Europe.