Teitos. Western European thatched roofs: from Asturias to Iceland

Medal/Award in the category Investigation in the year 2011.

Dating of the building: 1996 - 1998; 2007 - 2010.

Applicant: Carmen-Oliva Menéndez.

Reason for the award :

For the systematic study of architecture with green roofs in Europe, carried out by Doña Carmen-Oliva Menéndez, professor at the Polytechnic University of Madrid, which allows retracing the map of green roofs in Europe, from Asturias to Iceland, detailing their different typologies and establishing relationships between them, which allow this ancient practice of covering rural buildings to be characterized as a common European heritage.

The research is a magnificent contribution to the study of traditional European architecture, an area scarcely studied from an integral point of view.The research is a magnificent contribution to the study of traditional European architecture, an area scarcely studied from an integral point of view.

This research was called for due to the lack of studies on traditional architecture on a European scale. The analysis of thatching was chosen because, although there are numerous publications in different European countries when dealing with local traditions, they tend to restrict their focus of attention, ignoring what may exist in neighboring countries. That leads to serious interpretation errors, especially concerning Spain: if the relevance and sociological connotations of these northern European construction materials are unknown here, in Europe, the existence — and the transcendent anthropological interest — of the green roofs rarely maintained in notable points of the Iberian Peninsula are ignored.

The objective of this research has been to fill this gap through extensive fieldwork throughout Western Europe, temporally and geographically, to trace the endurance of ancestral techniques typical of a common identity. A comparative methodology has been used that reveals uses and shortcomings, ranging from language to the study of the reasons for such techniques and materials in some areas and their disappearance in others. Thus, based on styles and forms, the traditional cultural links underlying such artisan techniques are sought. The first phase of the research deals with the northwest of the peninsula focused on the mountains of Asturias and the Galician-Leonese Ancares, where the most important characteristic examples are still found. Then follows the connection of the Atlantic Arc in Ireland and the various counties of the British Islands. This second phase extends to the continent, especially in the north-western area: Germany, the Netherlands, Denmark, and in the Nordic countries Norway, Sweden, Iceland, and the Faroes. Finally, the last phase concludes by analyzing the regions of France and the Italian Piedmont, where the tradition of these constructive crafts also endures.

The subsequent publication of the book by COAATPA, with more than 400 photos and technical drawings by the author, has favored its wide international impact, helping to publicize a common European tradition that takes on special relevance with the recovered current interest in sustainable practices.

Others awards in Principado de Asturias: