The Foundation’s goals and work : During the last 30 years, the Foundation’s work has been very diverse. In the field of research and development, the exploration of construction techniques with soil is its job, in a historical, systematic and global perspective. Other focal points of the work are the exploration of renewable energies (wind, water, solar energy and biomass) and the development of low-cost housing strategies. The Foundation participated not only in research but also in teaching. A cooperation agreement with Spanish research and teaching institutions, such as the University of Valladolid, the Superior Council of Scientific Research and The Polytechnic University of Madrid made possible the execution of hundreds of schools, summer courses and international conferences since 1984. Navapalos is not connected to a public power grid. It harnesses the renewable energies for both public lighting and maintenance and accomplishment of its activities. With this sustainability proposal, Navapalos has shown to a whole generation of young students and scientists that it is possible to dispense with conventional energy sources and rely on clean or renewable energy. Beyond research and teaching, the Foundation carried out specific projects in collaboration with its «Inter-Action» Development Service (NGO). The Foundation and “Inter-Action” have acted not only in Spain, but also in countries such as Bolivia, Uruguay, Colombia, Nicaragua and Mexico, advising and directing constructions with indigenous materials. A general overview of these projects can be found in the books to download.
History The Navapalos Foundation emerged from the “Friends of Native Architecture and Popular Traditions of Spain Association» (Inter-Action, NGO), legalized on December 6, 1982, in Madrid, Spain. Inter-Action had among its objectives: documentation and research of popular architecture, its conservation and rehabilitation in the face of its deterioration and disappearance, and collaboration with developing countries to help alleviating housing deprivation and environment conservation problems. In 1985, Inter-Action created the Navapalos ECO-Center, in Castile and León, in the province of Soria, Spain. In 1996, it founded the Navapalos Foundation. During the last 30 years, the Foundation expanded its work and development service fields. The Foundation was not only researching traditional construction techniques (especially soil-based construction), but also the field of renewable energy, development of low-cost housing strategies and technology transfer. Since 1985, the village serves as a research and education center, as well as a center for the manifestation of renewable energy and innovative construction technology. The foundation (or «Inter-Action») has carried out more than twenty international congresses in Navapalos.
In 1993, the eminent Spanish anthropologist, historian and essayist, Julio Caro Baroja, agreed to take the Foundation’s board. After the death of Baroja, in 1995, in order to preserve the memory of its honorary president, the Foundation held the «Aula Julio Caro Baroja» biennial, in collaboration with the University of Valladolid, where anthropological issues and man-nature relationship were discussed. The last “Aula Julio Caro Baroja” took place in 2006.
The Foundation owes its name to the historic village Navapalos, an abandoned town in the province of Soria, at the north of Madrid. The village of Navapalos is located in the Spanish Province of Soria, in the Municipal District of El Burgo de Osma, a region with an extreme and harsh climate, little populated, with a tendency towards depopulation and low economic activity. All these factors, apart from the making the initiative posed very difficult, had led this small village to total abandonment both by its inhabitants and by the local authorities. It should be pointed out that there are several villages in the same Municipal District that are in a similar situation. The autochthonous Architectural Heritage, which is of great beauty, was on the brink of disappearing and mostly in a state of imminent ruination. Significant houses through their type, materials and building techniques; presses; dovecotes; towers; ovens, etc, full of history, were all about to disappear. It should be pointed out that the village of Navapalos is expressly mentioned in the epic poem «Cantar del M.o Cid», one of the jewels of medieval Spanish literature. Around the town, there are important historical monuments of touristic interest, such as the Arab Gormaz Castle –one of the most northern Arab fortresses of Spain–, El Burgo de Osma (Osma’s Burg) –in the City of Osma–, that is 12 kilometers away from Navapalos, and San Esteban de Gormaz (Saint Steven of Gormaz), which is 13 kilometers away from Navapalos. El Burgo de Osma is a township and a locality of the province of Soria, head of the judicial party of El Burgo de Osma, an autonomous community of Castile and León, Spain. It is in the region of Tierras del Burgo (Burg’s Lands). The City of Osma is the historical high-medieval center, while El Burgo de Osma is the neighboring town, declared “villa of tourist interest”, in 1962, and “historical-artistic complex”, in 1993. The city is the seat of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Osma-Soria, which in turn is part of the Archdiocese of Burgos. Of particular historical interest is the Cathedral of the Assumption of El Burgo de Osma, whose construction began in 1232.
Foto of the street of Navapalos: Ana Maria Rabe