MU is "Moradas no Ulla", is a new concept of rural tourism, a different way to spend an unforgettable weekend surrounded by nature in a sustainable way.
Today we talk with Pilar and Francisco, the team in charge of this project behind ecological cottages made of ecological pine wood. A couple that one day launched this project and has brought as a result this cozy ecological cottages in order to provide a sustainable alternative seeking a harmony between space and nature.
ECOLOGICAL AND SUSTAINABLE ARCHITECTURE
Please tell us who you are and how the project arises, what motivates you to create it and what are the main benefits that make it the ideal place to enjoy life.
We are Pilar and Fran, parents of two little girls, Pilar is a forest engineer and I come from the industrial manufacturing sector, and MU is a small family business.
I suppose the project comes from our passion for nature, for the rural way of life and we also love sustainable architecture and design. With all the information we receive everyday, we find it quite weird that we are able to turn our backs on the planet to the point of betraying ourselves. Seeing the way in which society encloses itself in its circle gave us the impulse not only to enjoy nature, but to try to go one step further and, on our small scale, to propose and offer a space in which to recover the relationship with it. Every decision we make, however insignificant it may seem, defines our daily life. We make choices with the environment since we get up every day. Since the moment we decide to go out to the market by walk or if we order our delivery online. In this sense, the cottages, which is still a tourist accommodation service, are conceived as an alternative to the madness that drags us along.
The Ulla river gives its name to the hotel. How has its presence inspired you? How the location, being near to the river, has influenced the design of the cottages and the connection with the space?
The Ulla river is omnipresent in our daily life, we live and work on both shores and it gives its name to our natural region of Baixo Ulla. In the cold mornings, when the sun rises, the fog that drags its waters covers the whole small valley where the cottages are located, creating a unique landscape. Our friend and landscaper Miguel Lois, has used for the project of repopulation of the land, trees of his surroundings.
Almost all our guests approach it, walk along its banks, cross the hanging bridge of Xirimbao, or immerse themselves in other experiences that we propose to them, such as bathing in its waters on hot days or daring to descend it in different modalities.
In this way we think of calling it Moradas no Ulla, MU, which also serves us as a tribute to the sound of the cow, which is less and less heard, and which has been a fundamental element for the development of our rural and our families.
The design of the cottages is very beautiful, to what extent did you get involved in the process?
Thank you, we are glad you like it. We wanted to do something and a few ideas, although we didn't know how to make it real. Seen with perspective, it seems logical that the project ended up materializing in this way. We did know that it was going to be related to nature. And we're excited about architecture. Prefabricated buildings had been a regular topic of debate with Nacho, a good friend, who ended up being the architect of the cottages. I suppose it was a matter of putting the pieces together. As for the design, the truth is that we had the cabin relatively defined: about its design, construction system or distribution we had already been curious, until we really faced the possibility of carrying it out. From our initial dream, through those first discussions and until the formalization of the project, the whole process was natural, it was a kind of team game.
Apart from the ecological pine wood that you used as the main building material, what other materials or bio-construction techniques did you use? Did you give priority to local materials?
Our project would be meaningless if it were not translated into a space that is respectful and integrated into the environment. When we decided to give shape to this project we did not want to lose sight of the origin, which was always the relationship with nature. When confronted with the intervention we find three fundamental aspects: how the construction should be approached, how to save the demands of tourism regulations and what the needs are going to be during its operation. For construction we try to minimize energy consumption, prioritizing the use of appropriate materials and components, minimizing the consumption derived from gray energy, derived from its production and transport, and waste generated. The concept of the prefabricated cabin, transportable or not, is based on this idea of optimizing the construction process, reducing the cost (economic and energy) of manufacturing, transport and waste.
Galicia boasts an exceptional green, the fruit of rain and the cold winters of the region.
How do you get the huts to maintain a minimum ideal temperature, being respectful of energy consumption?
This is the other fundamental aspect of the materialisation of the project: how to ensure that the huts are integrated into their natural environment without invading it. In short, in order to make the accommodation viable, it must be comfortable and also comply with the tourism standard. This, in general, is a challenge. And it still is, we continue working on reducing energy consumption, the goal is to make them self-sufficient. We are fortunate to be in a wonderful place, but we must be aware of the responsibility that this entails. Each climate demands a different response. In our case, with this premise of producing the minimum possible ecological footprint, we try to reduce energy consumption passively, by means of volumes with very low energy demand, and actively, by means of low energy consumption air-conditioning systems.
Water management is fundamental in your activity and environment. We would like to know how you manage the wastewater generated by your activity and whether you recycle it and return it to the environment (irrigation...etc).
We use our own spring water, in our area is the only way to obtain water. There is also no sewerage system, so we opt for a pit by decanting, with a drainage system from which we use the clean water for an irrigation system for the plot.
But our project has just started and is still alive, the plot is in continuous evolution, its maintenance and development is another fundamental issue, and right now we are assessing the implementation of renewable energy and other savings systems.
SUSTAINABLE ECONOMY PROJECT
Is MU ULLA a local economy project? That is to say, do you create relationships with environmental professionals, thus contributing to the development of a local/rural economic ecosystem?
We thought there would be no other way to do this, all the companies that were in charge of the different parts of manufacturing and construction, are people very close to us. Not only by conviction in the defense of the local economy, but by the very survival of the project. Only from that commitment, in many of the cases of friendship, could many of the complications that arose along the way be saved.
Linking lodging with sustainability is becoming a common place. Do you think that sustainability has come to stay in the industry of tourism, travel & leisure?
Of course. And we believe that this is the key to our project. Although it covers all the topics we are discussing, the first idea it suggests is that of an accommodation linked to the environment and, therefore, sustainability should be prioritized. At this point we return to the beginning: what leads us to look at this option? It proliferates because it is inevitable. It is inevitable that we consider our degree of freedom. We enjoy or suffer from a bunch of possibilities, and we decide on an option of the letter. Of course we're not inventing anything, but, like so many, it seems like it's time to step aside.
From our Blog Eko, we really appreciate the effort and commitment of people such as Pilar and Francisco, who in charge of MU Ulla make the difference mixing design, nature and tourism through the eco-design.
Take advantage of our special discount for readers and get a 20% discount (compatible with other discounts) on the booking from the second night or later in the Moradas no Ulla cottages and live in harmony with nature and space.
When you make your reservation, please let MU´s staff know that you are a reader of our Eko Blog in order to benefit from this special discount. To check the availability of the cottages, you can do it through their contact form or by sending an email to email@example.com or you can also contact directly by phone on the +34 652957783.
Think that with your purchase you are contributing to promote a change towards a fairer industry and a society that is more respectful of the consumption and the environment.