Elena Mira Lillo

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Truffle´s Center of Interpretation . Cuenca

Elena Mira Lillo . PFC | ETSAUN . Profesor: Jesús Bazal

The truffle is the fruit of a fungus. It is the result of a process of symbiosis between soil, fungus, tree and sun. It can arise naturally or manipulated by infecting the root of the tree. Normally, it is found in calcareous soils, where there is a tiny rate of clays.

This product was already employed in a culinary context B.C. This could be seen in vases, sculptures and paintings dated of that time, in which the truffle was considered as highly prized food. Nowadays, it is still the situation. Indeed, the French gourmand Jean Anthelme Brillant-Savarin has recently referred to the truffles as “the diamonds of the kitchen”.
The original idea of the project was the creation of a center for the collection of truffles. The collection of truffles is a very complex activity because it is a fruit located underground and for its collection it is required the use of trained animals. Each species has its truffle collection period, which is very brief. Furthermore, it matures in a very short period of time that is why it is a seasonal product. Certainly, this was a challenge in order to keep the center in continuous activity. However, this was solved by the use of two different types of truffle known as winter truffle (black truffle) and summer truffle (white truffle).
Additionally, there was another obstacle. The Final Project was required to exceed a minimum of 1.500m2 of surface. In order to comply with that requirement, one of the ideas was to extend the activity of the center and not to focus only on the collection of truffles but also in other products that can be derived from the truffle, as for instance, the truffle oil. Indeed, it was decided to focus on the latter for several reasons; first, Spain is traditionally one of the most important oil producers, second the truffle oil is considered as a highly prized product and finally, because of the combination of the oil and the truffle which results in an excellent product.

Nevertheless, by creating this new concept of the center, the undersigned realized that mostly of the people did not know about the origin, characteristics and properties, and the culinary possibilities of the truffle. With the aim to promote a better knowledge about this interesting product the center was evolved in a new one, the “Truffle´s Centre of Interpretation”, thus expanding even more the original concept of the center.
The project is inspired by traditional courtyards of “manchegas” houses. Using their style as a starting point, the building is able to adapt to the site topographically. Regarding to the volumetric, the program is redistributed around these gaps. The building incorporates three different activities. The formers are the interpretative center and the research center, which are located in the cubes, while the latter is the factory, which serves as a joint.
It is proposed not to limit the activity only to the inside of the building, but to also develop it outside. These activities are primary educational and interactive activities, for instance, collection of truffles (both in winter an summer), planting seeds (“plantones”) and routes depending on the species planted and environmental education, all of this using the property as a practical tool for teaching. Interestingly, theseoutdoors activities promote a dynamic interaction between the people who work there and the visitors.
The project respects the existing vegetation. In turn, it increases it by proposing new plantations. The selected species would be Quercus Ilex, Quercus Faginea and Colylus Avellana with the chosen varieties of truffles, Melansporum and Tuber Tuber Aestivium. Besides the selection of these species was based on the fact that they are very appropriate for the production of fungus and therefore, truffles, they have also been chosen due to their contribution to the landscape and the nature.

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