THE STUDY OF DEPOPULATED HISTORICAL ENSEMBLES IN THE PROVINCE OF TERUEL: A TOOL TO MAP, PROTECT AND CONSERVE THEIR VERNACULAR HERITAGE AND IDENTITY
There are 23 rural historical ensembles listed as BIC in the province of Teruel, one of the most depopulated areas in Spain. On the one hand, the lack of economic and demographic pressure in this region has made it possible to preserve many of the typological features of their vernacular architecture. On the other hand, the loss of permanent inhabitants and skilled craftsmanship practitioners has led to a worrying lack of maintenance and abandonment, which threatens their future conservation. The Cultural Heritage Department (Gobierno de Aragón) has been promoting several studies aimed at the protection of 6 different listed case-studies (Albalate del Arzobispo, Calaceite, Rubielos de Mora, Mirambel, Beceite and Teruel). Despite being very small, municipalities are the only competent bodies for the elaboration of the Special Protection master plans of each HE, according to Urban Planning and Cultural Heritage legislation. Hence, the primary purpose of these studies is to support them by analysing their heritage significance and singularities so they can use them as the base for master plans. They will also help raise awareness of their cultural values among local communities, while avoiding the mere conservation of empty urban and rural landscapes. The methodology comprises the identification, analysis and diagnosis of the heritage values that build their identity, thanks to a thorough inventory of all the vernacular constructive techniques, components and zones with a distinguishable character within the urban tissue and its environment.