Now people see a hut and say “I want to live here”, recounts the master hut Antonio Gandano. “What I don’t know is why we stopped doing it.”

Image of Rebeca Gómez-Gordo Villa for editorial use, provided by the master chocero Antonio Gandano.

The huts are the most sustainable buildings, says the hut master Antonio Gandano, winner of the Richard H. Driehaus Prize for Architecture, who has spent more than three decades building as has always been done with cane, vegetable fibers, wood, earth, sand, lime, stone and water.

The master chocero, together with the company Vetraria Muñoz de Pablos, the carpenter Francisco Luis Martos and the bricklayer and stonemason Rodrigo de la Torre have been awarded the aforementioned award, which seeks to promote the practice of construction and urban planning that preserve local traditions.

“My construction (the huts) is millenary, the same as always, with the earth, straw and water”, with which churches, palaces or farmhouses have been built, he explains in an interview with the EFE Gandano agency, and maintains that it is a profession very “attached to nature and the countryside”. “We adapt to the times,” he says, because right now when people see a hut they say “I want to live here”. And he asserts, “what I don’t know is why we have stopped living in them.”

Image of Rebeca Gómez-Gordo Villa for editorial use, provided by the master chocero Antonio Gandano.

Image of Rebeca Gómez-Gordo Villa for editorial use, provided by the master chocero Antonio Gandano.
via EFE

In the sixties they stopped the “progress of the huts and gave it to cement, steel and plastic”, he says, and recalls the images of many Spanish cities where little by little behind huts buildings could be seen. The huts “are a type of construction that has always been made, this construction is not new, it is not a fashion, this has been done all our lives with these materials.”

Millennial and sustainable

The chocero master was clear that he wanted to dedicate himself to the construction of huts from an early age, because “I always wanted to make a living from art, I really like color and since I was a child I have been a craftsman.” He maintains that being a chocero is a job that requires “Permanent contact with nature”, the same one that provides everything to build huts, green roofs, cane and mud walls or cobblestones.

However, he assures, “Going to the field is not going where you wantOne has to know how to walk through it, it is to know how to respect it, because it is where other beings who have the same right to live live. You cannot destroy a nest or a burrow. “

The masters of the traditional building techniques of Gandano were his father, the hut Juan Braza and Pepe -the stone handle of Arcos de la Frontera-. My father was a “master of the field, he knew the terrain very well, he knew how to walk, and he knew the plants, he was – in a certain way – a botanist,” explains Gandano, because he taught him about castanets, about the plants that grow in the arbinas, which at the end of summer become blind, dry up and are the grasses that are used for the roofs.

Image provided by the master chocero Antonio Gandano.

Image provided by the master chocero Antonio Gandano.
via EFE

“He taught me about the cane and working with the cane”, also about the Pitaco, olive, holm oak, wild olive, chestnut or eucalyptus woods, and “although he did not know the scientific names, he knew well which of the two types of eucalyptus was suitable for construction.”

From Pepe he learned to work and till the cultivated pastures, of wheat rye, and to weave the beet leaf – which was cultivated in that area for years and with which “they made very beautiful shades”.

Huts in europe

He decided then to learn more, he undertook a trip and contacted choceros from Brittany, from Holland and he learned how woods that exist in Andalusia were used and here they were not used, lime mortars -which had been lost-, dry stone or earth, “very well worked by the French or the Moroccans in the Atlas.” He began to discover new things, “there I gave myself to the huts. I continued studying -because I study and research- and sharing knowledge with choceros from other countries ”.

So he decided to start his own business and looked for assistants, although for many years “There was contempt for my work because everyone was going to construction ”.

Now it has become fashionable and they are looking for me “because according to people we do bio-construction”, a word that “I had not heard before, because what I do is traditional construction. “The huts are warm in winter and cool in summer, and they do not need heating or air conditioning systems “, like the houses of today.

But building it is a slow process, like the rhythms of nature, “you have to do them with a lot of love, because a hut cannot be conceived without poetry, and poetry cannot be conceived without love,” concludes the master chocero.