Restauración Traída de Aguas – Aqueduct and Waterworks Restoration. Teruel

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Location: This project covers two main elements: the aqueduct in Las Nogueras gully and the subterranean water works near El Rincon Tower, in Damaso Toran (Teruel).

Objectives:

  • Restore and consolidate the aqueduct
  • Restore the catch basin and galleries in Ronda Damaso Toran, recondition their access to facilitate inspection and visit.

Developer:  Dirección  General de Patrimonio Cultural del Departamento de Educación Cultura y Deportes del Gobierno de Aragón

As it has been stated, the works cover two different areas: the aqueduct, located in the initial part of the water works and the catch basin (or ark, as it is referred) and galleries in urban area.

The aqueduct is an ordinary stonework (limestone) construction with lime joints. Its only arch was partially covered with rubble and stones swept along the gully. The aqueduct is 38 m. long, 7’75 m. high and has a width of 1,70 m. in its base.

Acueducto

Due to a great loss of stones in some parts of the aqueduct, it was possible to see a metallic piping work from an older restoration, laid beneath the original “arcaduces” (ceramic plug-in pipes).

Apart from the addition of the missing stone work, there were areas that needed to be taken apart and rebuilt to consolidate the structure.

The gallery next to El Rincón Tower was perforated to direct water from the “Torre del Agua” (Water Tower) to Carnicerías Altas (literally ‘Butcher’s High’ or slaughterhouse district). It is a passage with  a low vaulted ceiling and walls renderend with plaster and lime mortar. In two areas, the passage lowers its ceiling and widens to form small rooms made from cutstone masonry

GaleríaEntrada arca

Nowadays we can find two stretches of tunnels; one following the direction of the city walls for about 15 m., 1 m. wide and 2 m. high; the second stretch is perpendicular to the first, goes on for about 18 m., 1 m. wide and a height that goes from 4 m. to 2,5 m.

The ground of the tunnels was mostly natural soil. The remains of old “arcaduces” were present around the tunnels. There were high humidity levels.

The façade of the ‘ark’, entrance to the tunnels, showed important deterioration in both renderings and lintels of door and window.

The access area, from the municipal facilities to the entrance of the ark, had no paving and showed the presence of wild vegetation. This was a circumstance also present in the area above the galleries. Although this was apparently of no importance in some areas, over the gallery next to the city walls there was evidence of structural damage.

Final result:

Acueducto Barranco Las NoguerasArco del acueductoArcaduces - ceramic plug-in pipesParte superior de acueducto - Aqueduct cover

Entrada Arca - Ark's entranceGalería - GalleryGalería - GalleryGalería - GallerySala - vaulted roomSala - vaulted room

BRIEF HISTORICAL NOTES

The elements object of the intervention are part of the historical set known as ‘Traída de Aguas” (water works) of the city of Teruel.

This set was built in the mid 1500s by Pierres Vedel [wiki]. The objective was to bring water from the fountain in the ‘Peña del Macho’, four kilometers from the city.

Distance and terrain condition between the two points made necessary the building of galleries and aqueducts. There are still present remains of both kind of structures with historical interest.

The appointment of Pierres Vedel for the construction of such an important system comes from his previous experience in the mines of Daroca (Zaragoza).

The building process used seems clearly extracted from the directives of Marcus Vitruvius Pollio in his “De architectura libri decem” or “Ten Books on Architecture”, volume VIII, in which  there is a reference to water location and sources, suitability for human consumption and different ways of conduction.

Vitruvius  describes three ways of water conduction:

“There are three methods of conducting water, in channels through masonry conduits, or in lead pipes, or in pipes of baked clay”

Here, the chosen method was the last one. This decision was probably made on the grounds already  stated by Vitruvius: low cost, ease of work and maintenance and better salubriousness of water using clay conducts.

But if we wish to spend less money, we must proceed as follows. Clay pipes with a skin at least two digits thick should be made, but these pipes should be tongued at one end so that they can fit into and join one another. Their joints must be coated with quicklime mixed with oil, and at the angles of the level of the venter a piece of red tufa stone, with a hole bored through it, must be placed right at the elbow, so that the last length of pipe used in the descent is jointed into the stone, and also the first length of the level of the venter; similarly at the hill on the opposite side the last length of the level of the venter should stick into the hole in the red tufa, and the first of the rise should be similarly jointed into it.

The level of the pipes being thus adjusted, they will not be sprung out of place by the force generated at the descent and at the rising. For a strong current of air is generated in an aqueduct which bursts its way even through stones unless the water is let in slowly and sparingly from the source at first, and checked at the elbows or turns by bands, or by the weight of sand ballast. All the other arrangements should be made as in the case of lead pipes. And ashes are to be put in beforehand when the water is let in from the source for the first time, so that if any of the joints have not been sufficiently coated, they may be coated with ashes.

Clay pipes for conducting water have the following advantages. In the first place, in construction:–if anything happens to them, anybody can repair the damage. Secondly, water from clay pipes is much more wholesome than that which is conducted through lead pipes, because lead is found to be harmful for the reason that white lead is derived from it, and this is said to be hurtful to the human system. Hence, if what is produced from it is harmful, no doubt the thing itself is not wholesome.

The building started in 1537 and was a milestone, not in the urban layout, but in advancement and improvement in life quality of Teruel’s inhabitants. The urban area, laid higher than the existent water sources, had trouble with its water supply.

The water works were formed by a net of 140 ‘arks’ along the clay piping that conducted water from ‘Peña del Macho’. Terrain configuration makes necessary the use of special solutions, in occasions showing technical prowess and effort. Between them, the aqueduct-viaduct “Los Arcos” shines through, built in the urban area with great beauty and singularity.

This is, without doubt, an espectacular formalization of the need of both saving the height difference for water and building a walking bridge connecting the centre with the outskirts, the ‘Arrabal’.

‘Los Arcos’ is a Renaissance work, formed by overlapping layers of semi-circular arches with ” a concavity of 94 geometric palms” (a span of 13 metres) and a height ranging from 12 m. to 27 m.

The aqueduct runs on top, with an approximate section of 30×20 cm. Vedel probably used part of the defensive walls to conduct water to the south and, through the ‘Lombardera’ Tower, to ‘Carnicerías Altas’, where the old fire station was located.

Of no less importance is the water distribution around the city, with a number of fountains of which only the one in Fuentebuena St. still remains, with a pillared Renaissance style. Nowadays we can find this fountain in ‘Plaza del Ayuntamiento’, nex to the Dean’s House.

Perhaps the originality and singularity of the aqueduct-viaduct come from the way the pedestrian crossing was opened. Vedel designed a series of arches through the pillars that give the monument an unique character and accent the slenderness of the top part.

The main building works finished in 1558, but it probably did not start working until 1580, with a total cost of 50.000 escudos. In the Green Book of Teruel, there is a reference to a “…general visit, of the fountain, arks, secrets and delicacies of the factory of  the fountain in the city of Teruel…” dated on February 19th, 1583.


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