Cantabria Traditional Architecture Summer Shool 2019

In 2019, the Traditional Architecture Summer School was held from July 8 to 21. On this occasion, the course was developed in the municipality of Valderredible, and specifically in the town of Polientes. During these two weeks, a large group of participants and professors analyzed and studied the building, architecture and urban traditions of this valley, developing a catalog of them that served as a basis for the various design proposals for the future of Polientes.


The Summer School was organized by INTBAU, the Premio Rafael Manzano of New Traditional Architecture and the Fundación Botín, and it was possible thanks to the support provided by the  Richard H. Driehaus Charitable Lead Trust (through a contribution to the Chicago Community Foundation for the Richard H. Driehaus Charitable Fund), the Fundación Ekaba and the Fundação Serra Henriques. Equally important was the collaboration and participation of the Government of Cantabria, through the Consejería de Medio Rural, Alimentación y Pesca, and the Town Hall of Valderredible, as well as the Prince’s Foundation, the Schools of Architecture of the University of Notre Dame, the University of Miami, the Judson University and the Benedictine College (USA), the Escola Superior Gallaecia (Portugal), the Universidad de Alcalá, the Universidad Alfonso X el Sabio, the Universidad de Cantabria, the Universidad de Castilla-La Mancha and the Universidad Politécnica de Madrid (Spain) and the Centro de Investigación de Arquitectura Tradicional (CIAT-UPM). The 32 participants, selected amongst the 57 applications received, in a way that the final group was as rich and diverse as possible, with very different profiles, ages and backgrounds, and being represented up to 15 nationalities: Colombia, Cuba, Slovakia, Spain, United States of America, Guatemala, Honduras, India, Italy, Mexico, Peru, Poland, Portugal, United Kingdom and Syria. The group was composed by: Nadia Al Aliová, Jackeline Ivonne del Arca Argueta, Ander Arregui González, Natalia Bautista Peña, María Berganza Soto, Amanda Buehler, Jonathan Buehler, Carolina Cabra Ankersmit, Clara Calvo Martínez, Matilde Caruso, Anna Castilla Vila, Fernando Manuel Cerqueira Barros, Elmer Delton Jackson, Anna Drechsler, Jimena Escorial Casado, Ada R. García Mosquera, Rocío Gómez Sánchez, Madison Wren Hemenway, Lynn Jawich, Alexandra Kupi, Saakshar Makhija, Lucas Martí Guitera, Blanca Medina Sánchez, Rachel Lauren Peterson, Esteban Martínez, Carlos Alexandre Prata Félix, Cami Quinteros, Nadia Samir, Sruti Shivakumar, Anisha Suri, Basia Walicka and Patrick Webb. The team of teachers consisted of a set of both professionals and academics dedicated to Traditional Architecture and Urbanism: Douglas Duany (University of Notre Dame), Frank Martínez (University of Miami), Christopher C. Miller (Judson University) and Alejandro García Hermida (Universidad Alfonso X el Sabio – INTBAU Spain), coordinator and organizer of the summer school with the collaboration of Rebeca Gómez-Gordo Villa (INTBAU Spain) and José María María Ballester (Fundación Botín). Their work was complemented with the participation of a great group of guest lecturers: Mónica Alcindor (Escola Superior Gallaecia), José Baganha (INTBAU Portugal), Julián Berzosa, Eduardo Cabanas Moreno, Juan Carlos Cabria Gutiérrez, Francisco Javier Castilla Pascual (Universidad de Castilla-La Mancha), Javier Cenicacelaya (Universidad del País Vasco-INTBAU España), Carmen Díez Herrera (Universidad de Cantabria), Aritz Díez Oronoz (Universidad del País Vasco), Xavier Espinós Bermejo, Pedro Fernández Lastra, Estefanía Fernández-Cid Fernández-Viña, Rui Florentino (Escola Superior Gallaecia), Leopoldo Gil Cornet (INTBAU España), Enrique Gutiérrez Cuenca (Universidad de Cantabria), Jaime de Hoz Onrubia (Universidad Alfonso X el Sabio-CIAT), Imanol Iparraguirre Barbero (Universidad del País Vasco), Elena Jiménez Sánchez, Abelardo Linares del Castillo-Valero, Rafael Manzano Martos, Rafael Mata Olmo (Universidad Autónoma de Madrid), Manuel Montañés García (Kalam), Manuel Navarrete Moreno, Isabel Ordieres (Universidad de Alcalá), Telma Ribeiro (INTBAU Portugal), Eduardo Ruiz de la Riva (Universidad de Cantabria), Lander Uncilla and Patrick Webb. The first week of the course was dedicated to comprehending the culture of the area, its architecture, its constructive traditions, its territory and landscape, its heritage and its history. To that aim, diverse places along the valley were visited in order to study the key exponents of its varied architectural and urban heritage. Some of its most representative urban areas were analysed and drawn. Each afternoon, experts on the aforementioned fields gave lectures on them, complementing in this way what had already been studied throughout the day. Apart from Polientes, the town which fostered the course, and where a longer period of time was spent, dedicated to its study and data collection, other of the most representative examples of local heritage were visited. Some of these were the cave church of Santa María de Valverde, the ethnographic museum of San Andrés de Valdelomar, – visited along with its creator Julián Berzosa – and the collegiate church of San Martín de Elines. Other towns such as Villanueva de la Nía and the three selected locations, together with Polientes itself, were the places where most time was spent in order to gather all the detailed data for its later study. These three selected locations were Somera, Ruerrero and San Andrés de Valdelomar, each of them representing a different area of the valley and different types of urban structure. In each one of them, several works to collect data were carried out including the drafting of plans and sections of the main spaces, visual studies of the paths and accesses, an analysis of the composition of its streets and squares and catalogues of their most characteristic architectural and constructive elements. During each visit, there was room for debate and team work as a means of learning together. Leaving aside the area of study – but equally decisive for understanding the identity of the region – were the visits to Orbaneja del Castillo and Santillana del Mar during the first weekend of the course. The second week was used to put into practice everything which had been learnt previously. Together with the Town Council of Valderredible, eight possible topics and areas of intervention within Polientes were agreed in order to enhance their beauty, complete or improve the urban fabric of the town. This included a proposal for a hypothetical future development of the urban nucleus during the following decades. The group was divided into teams which worked conscientiously in order to give response to the suggested challenges in terms of design, using in the process what we had had the chance to learn during the previous week and with the advice and guidance of the teaching team. As an additional aid during this phase of the work, each afternoon different professionals presented their works in the fields of architecture, urbanism, conservation and restoration of architectural heritage, site management and traditional construction masteries, all in the interest of inspiring the group in the elaboration of their proposals. Lastly, on the last Saturday of the course there was a public presentation of the works carried out throughout those two weeks. It was exhibited in the Council Hall of Valderredible, in Polientes, where many neighbours dropped by very interested in knowing more about the projects. During this event the diplomas for having taken part in the course where handed out, and it was chaired by representatives of the Government of Cantabria, the Town Council of Valderredible and the rest of institutions which took part in this initiative.


Download here the Cantabria Traditional Architecture Summer School 2019 Program

Photos of the Activities

Sketching and measuring in different towns

San Andrés de Valdelomar

Orbaneja del Castillo

San Martín de Elines

Design proposals for Polientes

Master Plan for Polientes





Western Gate


New Polientes