Winner of the 2021 Hispania Nostra Award in the Intervention on Territory or Landscape section, the operations carried out in the core of the locality of Ruesta have made it possible to retrace a stretch of the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage route that comes from France and passes through this spot in the Jacetania comarca of Zaragoza province, and in the process restore its main street and three hermitages (San Jacobo, San Juan de Ruesta, San Juan de Sigüés). Two masterplans are reflected in different implementation projects meant to revitalize, preserve, and manage the heritage of a depopulating zone: the construction of the Yesa Reservoir in the 1960s involved the expropriation of crop fields and homes, which brought about social decline and the deterioration of the area’s architectural heritage. Commissioned by the Ebro Hydrographic Confederation and the Government of Aragon, Sebastián Arquitectos – led by Sergio Sebastián Franco – carried out a series of simple actions designed to consolidate and recover remains of buildings, and also assign new uses to restored heritage. The Zaragoza firm proposes a campsite amid ruins to foster tourism, offering an antidote to depopulation.
The premise is acceptance of the ruin as is. For the structural consolidation of Ruesta’s houses, some of which were close to collapsing, as well as of its town fabric, the strategy involved removing rubble, reinforcing walls, draining the interiors of plots, freeing up spaces, creating new ones in open air. The concrete beams form an upper ring that prevents lateral movements, protects the high stretches of stone wall, and draws a line which on plan marks the design of the old village of Ruesta.