A journey through an orchard

Title: A journey through an orchard
Location: Granada, Spain
Studio: Serrano + Baquero
Author: Juan Serrano Garcia + Paloma Baquero Masats
Category: Collective Place
Video: Estudio Serrano + Baquero
Photos: Estudio Serrano + Baquero, Javier Callejas Sevilla

Niguelas is a little town in Granada, which is really related to the water. Its position at the foot of Sierra Nevada, and its landscape, crops and orchards intertwined with ditches are a clear evidence of this. In an old orchard, abandoned and degraded, a new garden is proposed, which seems a perfect chance to regain the memories that belong to this place and that have been lost, creating a new public place for the inhabitants.
In this orchard, the current mayor used to play with her friends when she was a child. They used to spend the mornings enjoying the water of the ditches that watered the crops, hiding behind the quinces or having lunch under the shadow of the big oak while their parents worked the land. The passage of time has deteriorated the identity of the garden, blurring some of its qualities. The intervention consists on the restoration of these memories, using and giving value to the existing resources such as irrigation ditches, trees, paths and views.
The abandoned orchard is recovered for the local employment workshops, school activities and the nursing home. Water becomes the star of this new space, using the existing daily system of irrigation organizing it with new water accumulation pools.
A path is digged in the garden, linking the strategic points of the garden and allowing the enjoyment of the different places that arose in the interviews made to the inhabitants, who helped the team bringing to light the hidden forces of the place.
The path emerged from the strains of the garden. Following this route it will be possible to enjoy the smells, sounds, and sensations resulting from the encounter between water, vegetation, landscape and memory. At the end of the trail, at a lower altitude, a stage is placed benefiting from the existing natural acoustic screen between an olive tree, some fig trees and chestnuts. Summer cinema, local band performances and other events will be held here.
The aim of the project is to highlight the memories and links found in the garden, creating the necessary public garden for the inhabitants through an archaeological strategy, for which one single action is developed: the displacement of material. The extraction of land generated the semi-buried path that places the visitor at different levels and situations, and is piled up waiting to build the garden when the employment workshop is scheduled, solving the entire project with earthmoving.

The orchard has been recovered and put in value through a collective memory exercise in continuity with the preexisting, allowing a social appropiation of the site. Moreover. the public space is obviusly enjoyed as a collective place for relation and interchange, but it was built also in a collective way, being the architects just mediators between the parts involved and technical advisors for the local workers: bakers, farmers or ranchers,
In order to alleviate the unemployment rate of the inhabitants of the little town, the council and the designing team decided to hire only in people from Nigüelas and make contracts for periods of 15 days, which means that since July 15, 2012, the day the works began, it's been 20 teams of operators working of the garden.
Leaving aside the technical problems it has caused, the experience has been very positive due to the involvement and participation of the people, causing interesting processes of ownership of the project by the people who have worked in the garden and their families. We had to develop a special building planning, since Moises, for example, had to watch his sheep as they grazed on the adjoining lot, and Serafin has to irrigate his tomatoes twice a day.