About the project
“Habitar el agua / Inhabiting the water” is a project that focuses on the current state of the towns developed by the National Institute of Colonization between the 1940s and 1970s in Spain. The work, carried out by Ana Amado and Andrés Patiño, covers more than thirty towns visited over three years and reflects their approach as architects and photographers to a phenomenon worthy of greater presence and dissemination. Their work makes known the stories of the settlers and their descendants, intimately associated with the towns they inhabited and that they proudly defend today as their own.
Its genesis during Franco’s dictatorship has been presented as an often insurmountable obstacle to its national and international recognition. Years of scarcity, autarky, and dictatorship paradoxically illuminated a program of success (though not exactly economic success) already outlined in a historical period ranging from the dawn of the Enlightenment to the agrarian reforms of the Second Republic.
It is worth highlighting the relevance of the colonization program that promoted irrigation in open areas of all the hydrographic basins of the Peninsula in a time of great difficulties. The program of the National Institute of Colonization (INC) promoted the creation of more than 300 towns scattered around the main hydrographic basins. More than 55,000 settler families were mobilized.
Ana Amado and Andrés Patiño’s interest in documenting aspects of colonization, in their opinion little studied using audiovisual means, marks the beginning of this project. The analysis starts from architecture, often developed through experimental urban planning by architects who later became leading figures of Spanish midcentury modern architecture (de la Sota, Fernández del Amo, Corrales, Fernández Alba, and de Terán among others). The unusual presence of contemporary art in churches and unique buildings was another of the engines that drove the start of the project.
After visiting the villages, they obtained a closer, more emotional, and deeper knowledge when speaking with their inhabitants. They discovered the labor of the people who, being immigrants in their own nation and after many years of hard work, managed to build a new identity and memory over that abstract and uniform architecture.
Lecture presented by MAS Context and the Instituto Cervantes of Chicago.
You can purchase the book from its publisher or your local bookstore:
→ Habitar el Agua (Turner, 2020).