This project emerged from the Master Plan for the Snow Wells of the Sierra Espuña, which included the cataloging and analysis of the state of conservation of these ancient ice factories. Thanks to this effort, in November 2022, the cultural landscape of the wells was declared a Cultural Heritage Site (BIC) in the category of “ethnographic place of interest”.
Among the urgent measures outlined in the Master Plan was the restoration of wells number 11 and 13 due to their uniqueness, accessibility, and state of conservation. Despite significant damage and the collapse of a substantial part of their domes, they still retained enough structure and data for their recovery.
Well number 11 stands out as the largest in Sierra Espuña, posing a significant structural challenge. Well number 13 preserved part of its original dome, providing valuable information about its geometry.
Objectives and Restoration Methodology: The Challenge of Working with Traditional Techniques and Materials
This project centered on the comprehensive restoration of two wells, with the primary goal of recovering their original geometry, resulting in two complete examples from a series of 28 wells. The restoration was carried out using traditional construction techniques and materials: namely, stone and brick masonry, accompanied by lime mortar. Before this intervention, there were no complete wells remaining in the Sierra Espuña that displayed the original structure; two previous restorations had used metal structures, diverging from traditional techniques.
Two Wells, Two Construction Systems
We encountered two distinct typologies: well number 11 had a mixed construction dome (stone/brick), and well number 13 had a stone masonry dome built by layering. This resulted in domes with different shapes: one resembling a hemisphere and the other a cone. We chose to employ these traditional construction systems to preserve the authenticity of the original typologies.
Our ultimate goal was not to restore the original use of these ice factories, which is no longer relevant today. Instead, we aimed to enable visitors to explore these unique structures and learn about the history of the ice trade in the past. To enhance the visitor experience, new access elements were added, such as an observation deck and a staircase in well 11, as well as a walkway crossing the void in well 13. These elements, designed and built in wood, stand out from the original materials.