In Southern Europe, the 1960s marked the beginning of a mass movement of people from the countryside to the city, which left thousands of villages deserted. According to the Spanish Department of Statistics, Spain alone has some 3,000 abandoned hamlets. Many are falling into disrepair for rea- sons that vary from 'who owns what' to the impracticality of living in loca- tions so far from civilization. Their remoteness appears to be, however, exactly what appeals to a growing number of people who are buying up villages, monastery complexes and palaces suitable for restoration and habitation. Some are individuals looking for secluded homes for themselves and like-minded enthusiasts; others are companies that regenerate derelict villages for tourism, com- plete with overnight accommodation. Certain estate agencies, among which Spain's Aldeas Abandonadas ('abandoned villages'), specialize in the sale of uninhabited settlements; an entire village can go for the price of a nice apartment in the city. Many buyers share a desire for authenticity and want to preserve the local economy and history. They are deeply com- mitted to the rebuilding process, which often takes years and sometimes decades to complete. In this issue, we visit eight such places in Portugal, Spain and Italy. Sanderyn Amsberg (architect and strategy consultant) and Daniel Jauslin (researcher and lecturer on landscape architecture at TU Delft) travelled south, along with photographer Ariel Huber. They spoke with the initiators of restoration projects about their plans and motivations, stayed overnight, and wrote about their experiences.
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