Ansó is the main village in the Ansó Valley which is part of the Western Valleys of the Pyrenees Natural Park in Spain. It is a peaceful area without much tourist development. The village has preserved well its traditional Pyrenean architecture and thanks to this has been declared a Place of Cultural Value/Interest.
Its 405 inhabitants have access to simple, but ample services, including a health clinic, banks, post office, pharmacy, grocers, butcher, bakers etc. The state school stands out as innovative.
Ansó has an extensive territory (251,83 km²) of great beauty and exceptional biodiversity which is a treasure for nature lovers and for mountain sports (bird watching, botany, hiking, mushrooming, climbing, mountain biking, canyoning, canoeing, cross country skiing, hunting and fishing).
The concern in our village about ever fewer inhabitants and the lack of housing for young people and newcomers has led us to start creating the best possible environment for teleworkers and new businesses.
We are working on creating housing for letting to residents, refurbishing municipal buildings for startups and teleworkers and we’re upgrading our internet connection. Additionally, we would like to run a media campaign to change people’s perception of what living in a village can be like, now that technology makes the dream of living and working close to nature a reality.
Smart Rural Journey
Follow along with our Village Roadmap here :
Ansó’s smart project has two objectives: the rehabilitation of the old sawmill for community use and its related architectural planning; and the engagement of the community. The support related to the sawmill rehabilitation included advice on the construction elements linked to sustainable building criteria, energy efficiency and bioclimatic architecture. Interviews with local stakeholders were conducted to assess the needs of the community (including potential users of the building). Furthermore, support and advice were provided for identifying financing for the rehabilitation works, and communicating the ideas and strategy. Ansó has prepared different strategies (including a Smart Village Strategy) in the past years, and thanks to those, they are better prepared for the future. But for the implementation, it is essential to involve the various local social segments and institutions. To this end, they have prepared a Community Engagement Strategy and realised some engagement activities.
Field visit to plan tasks for the architectural project
A field visit to the local area to analyse the building, meet with the architect and municipal authorities to define concrete tasks and strategies.
Local needs assessment for concrete uses of the centre
Through interviews with local stakeholders (including potential users), the needs of the local people were assessed and the definition of programme and concrete uses of the centre were developed.
Defining the architectural project
The basic architectural project of the sawmill’s rehabilitation was defined, including the compilation of guidelines on architectural sustainability, energy efficiency and bioclimatic architecture, building systems, and management model.
How to finance the rehabilitation works?
Identifying financing for the rehabilitation works is ongoing, including contacts and meetings with institutions, private entities, etc. that can finance the project.
Social engagement planning jointly with council members
During the planification meetings, objectives and techniques were defined, actions were planned (google translated English version) and the Community Engagement Strategy structure was decided as follows:
- Definition of objectives;
- Analysis of key actors;
- Actions to develop;
- Definition of communication channels;
- Creation of a team of local leaders;
- Action planning;
- Coordination of local leaders’ meetings.
Key actor analysis
The different formal and informal social groups of the village were identified. They were grouped in three categories:
- Non-formal social groups;
- Local associative fabric;
- Public institutions.
Set-up and training of the local leading team
Three categories for participation were set-up:
- Work team: made up of the technical team (Ixambre cooperative) and the local council;
- Local leading team: a group of local people that directs the process and makes the decisions;
- The population: participates in the processes and activities.
Development and coordination of communication tools
Interviews and participatory workshops were organised.
Disseminating results locally
Results were disseminated among local residents in the framework of a workshop.
Village strategy :
Proud culture and traditions in Ansó
Each year, at the end of August, Ansó celebrates its culture and traditions and 2021 will see the 50th edition of the Traditional Costume Day which will feature an entire week of cultural activities.
Traditional clothing and the women who wore it while traveling through Spain or emigrated to France in ancient times will be the focus of talks, exhibitions, dance shows, documentary screenings and concerts. This is how Ansó tells its residents about its and their history.
Technological advances in Ansó
Work to improve connectivity and advance the technological development of Ansó continues with a meeting in July 2021 on the local strategy between the Ansó municipality, the counselor of Science, University and Knowledge Society, and the director of the Technological Institute of Aragon.
The meeting saw an exchange of ideas for actions that will help to transform Ansó into a technologically advanced village in the next few years, through 5G and fiber optic networks, and virtual reality – all to be used as tools to stop the depopulation process.
The Spanish Urban Agenda welcomes Ansó
Ansó is joining the Spanish Urban Agenda – the main national roadmap towards the 2030 territorial, economic, demographic and social development for urban areas – in the summer of 2021. In doing so, Ansó will become the first Spanish village (with less than 5 000 inhabitants) with a license to prepare a Local Action Plan in a rural setting, and thus, become a reference for others.
This development is a step forward in the village’s smart strategy, which was initiated by the municipality with the support of the national expert within the Smart Rural 21 project framework, Jon Aguirre Such.
Erasmus on rural depopulation in Ansó
An Erasmus Rural grant allowed a 24-year-old student to spend the month of July 2021 in Ansó and conduct research on rural depopulation. He conducted interviews with the locals and analysed the impact of tourism and floating population on housing development and Ansó’s urban core.
The results highlighted the importance of maintaining the economic sectors that allow a sustainable development of the rural area.
The grant was realised thanks to the collaboration between the University of Zaragoza and the rural areas of Aragon.
Ansó inspires a fashion designer
The fashion designer Enrique Carrera created a prêt-a-couture fashion collection inspired by the traditional Ansó costumes and fabrics, recently digitised as part of the EU-funded project ‘STITCH’ (Safeguarding and Teaching Intangible Textile Cultural Heritage).
The project will further popularise the village costume heritage by showing a 3D display and a documentary to residents in August 2021 and displaying the entire project collection at the Zaragoza Museum in September 2021.
Classroom in the nature
The community project between the Ansó school and the City Council to create a learning space in the nature continues to grow. In the spring of 2020, the local boys and girls planned, planted and built a garden, fruit trees and a chicken coop.
The village school has been using innovative pedagogical tools of this type, linked to the integral evolutionary development of children, for more than 20 years.
Traditional Ansó costumes get digital
Ansó residents have been working to digitise their traditional local costumes during the months of April and May 2021, as part of the EU-funded project ‘STITCH’ (Safeguarding and Teaching Intangible Textile Cultural Heritage). Traditional Ansó costumes have been scanned in 3D, audio-visual documentaries and workshops with local artisans have been produced, which will at a later stage be used for online exhibitions.
The Erasmus+ project STITCH aims to provide design students from across Europe with a learning and inspiration tool, using as a basis the digitised versions of the three most ancient and best preserved traditional costumes across the continent, including those of Ansó, Albania and Hungary.
Ansó expands WiFi connectivity
Benefitting from the ‘WiFi4EU’ initiative, Ansó installed 11 free and open WiFi connection points in May 2021. This action is part of the objectives in Ansó’s strategy ‘to improve connectivity’ in order to ensure that the village becomes a place where residents can telework and start online businesses.
Ansó youth gets formal representation
The Ansó Local Council for Children and Adolescents was set up in the winter of 2021 by the local youth, supported by the school’s teachers and the City Council. This new body of the Ansó City Council will work to facilitate the active participation of youth in political decisions and social life.
The purpose of this action is to continue on the path of making Ansó a participative and active village for all!
Neighbourhood Housing Mediation Programme
The Ansó Town Council has launched a programme that provides mediation between homeowners of vacant houses and potential new tenants, making it easier for young people, new residents and families to live in unused or semi-empty housing intended for tourist use. It is one of our highlighted ‘smart solutions’. Discover it at: https://www.smartrural21.eu/smart-solution/neighbourhood-housing-mediation-programme/
Ansó Smart Rural 21 objectives
Explore Ansó’s objectives and multiple projects to become a service and tourism-oriented rural area that is digitally advanced and offers a decent living environment.
Photo gallery :
Main village contact
Facebook: @valleanso Instagram: @valledeanso
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