Arts & Entertainment

Spain’s historic farming silos given new lease of life

By Oscar R. Ventana

Valladolid, Spain, Feb 28 (EFE).- Spain’s historic farming outposts, towering granaries and warehouses that are scattered across the country, are getting a new lease of life as hotels, spas, galleries and massive canvases for urban artists.

Most of these huge barns belong to either agricultural cooperatives or the state, which periodically tries to sell the vast facilities at auction.

Repurposing the buildings poses many challenges due to planning restrictions, the rigidity of their robust walls and their original design, all of which make prospective development projects very pricey, architect Carlos Mateo tells Efe.

Mateo, who has been cataloging Spain’s national network of silos and granaries and managing redevelopment projects for years, says that these kinds of projects have the potential to draw people back to rural Spain and combat depopulation.

One of the early examples of a successful granary transformation was the Silo Theater, which launched in 2006 in the southern hamlet of Pozoblanco, near Cordoba, and has since become a benchmark for repurposed cultural venues.

Since then, many of these buildings up and down the nation have been redesigned, often with tourism in mind given it is one of Spain’s key economic sectors.

The 15th-century Arévalo castle, which served as a granary between 1952 and 1977 and currently houses the Cereal Museum, is another leading example of how these historic buildings have been repurposed as tourism hubs.

In the southern province of Seville, the Silo Mirador de la Campiña became the first former granary to become a museum.

In the northern town of Estella, in Navarre, an old flour factory was transformed into a four-star hotel while in the eastern town of Bello, in Aragon, an eco-hotel in a former granary offers visitors an astronomical observatory with a telescope.

In the province of Ciudad Real in central Spain, one of these mammoth buildings is being used for the Titanes community center which brings people together through art and tackles social isolation.

The building was given a makeover by renowned international urban artists, like Okuda, who filled the vast exterior walls with lashings of bright paint and designs that echoed the venue’s agricultural past.

And while these transformations also encourage human activity in rural Spain, they can also serve the local wildlife.

To that end, environmental group Grefa has been using these buildings since 2010 to create an ecological corridor for lesser kestrels and have provided space for some 1,000 nests across the regions of Madrid, Castilla-La Mancha, Andalusia and Extremadura.EFE


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