Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Fine Arts


Interior Design

First Advisor

Christiana Lafazani


Culture and a Connection In the Spanish province of Asturias, many homes built in the16th and 17th centuries are constructed of dry-stacked stone and large timbers for floor joists, rafters, decking. They are topped with large, irregularly shaped roof slates. Alongside many of these homes stands a rectangular granary called a cabazo. The cabazo, similarly constructed, is a stand-alone structure about twenty feet tall, six feet wide and twenty feet long. The main portion, (the storage area), stands ten feet off the ground atop two large, tapered columns. The upper level is typically separated form the lower level by a massive flat, horizontal stone that protrudes past the face of the columns. This one stone is the floor of the granary. The height above the ground and the continuous flat stone keep the food dry and safe from animals. The stone of the columns, quarried from nearby hills, consists of pieces as small as driveway gravel and as large as shoeboxes. Even though they were built of varying size stones the builders created large, extremely flat vertical planes. Two beams, roughly hewn from chestnut logs, span one column to the next, and support the storage area and roof. These curious structures, born from utility and perched on the hills of the Asturias countryside, have become local cultural icons. A record of visible human participation is left in the traces and details made by the tools of the workmen who built these cabazos. The traces make the connection between the structure and the hand of man, an immediate expression of the granary’s essence and thus an integral part of the local culture. The industrial age introduced powerful machinery into the tool set of the designer. Extruded steel and reinforced concrete enable designers to create monumental structures within relatively short periods of time. Although the advent of these methods signaled the loss of the record of human participation, the hand of man was also lost in the repetition and redundancy found on the factory floor. The scale of the effort was hidden and diluted by the machinery used to construct the modern forms. The absence of visible traces of the men who built the structures creates a disconnect between humans and the built environment. It is not feasible to go back to creating homes by stacking stones together or using hand tools to construct office buildings, but the materials that are produced by factories can become a new source of raw materials for designer and builder in a way that engages the craftsman. I believe that through the careful use of technology and materials, as well as the inclusion of the craftsman, an environment can be created that extends beyond formal appreciation and expresses a deeper connection between man, culture, and the built environment.


© The Author

Is Part Of

VCU University Archives

Is Part Of

VCU Theses and Dissertations

Date of Submission

May 2009