El Serradell and its surroundings
A brief history of the house
The landscape and the architectural features that surround El Serradell cannot be understood without knowing a little about the masia’s history.
Since time immemorial El Serradell has belonged to the Polí manor and its tenants used to farm the land, raise livestock and cut timber for their landlords.
Throughout the Middle Ages, surviving plagues and invasions, the Garrotxa highlands used to be far more populated than in the XX and XXI centuries, by God fearing communities that dotted the landscape with small churches.
In the XVIII and XIX centuries charcoal production boosted the local economy: the primeval forests almost disappeared, felled to fire charcoal kilns. The population grew and the local landowners enlarged their masias and manor houses.
All this changed in the XX century. The harsh conditions of mountain life and the arrival of electricity and industrialization in the valleys led to the sharp decline of the established communities of the Alta Garrotxa.
Today, improved communications and renewable energy sources have attracted new settlers and nurtured a new economy around ecotourism, active tourism and sustainability.
Guests at Serradell can now stroll through the former fields of the masia turned into grazing land for cattle and sheep and will come across a number of charcoal kilns hidden in the forest. They can walk to some of the well preserved Romanesque churches and have the chance to visit the nearby impressive manor house of Polí. A memorable journey back in time.
Reconstruction work on El Serradell began in September 2006 with the removal of the rubble from the fire. The rubble removal was carried out taking great care so as to retrieve original elements the fire had not destroyed.
The reconstruction Project was led by Lola Domènech, a prize winning architect born in Olot, who designed the new Serradell with great respect for the original building whilst introducing modern finishes and solutions, rendering a sober and elegant style.
The construction work was completed by Construcciones Hermanos Picart SL, a small local firm with proven experience in construction in the Alta Garrotxa. They have worked on other rehabilitation projects such as Talaixà church or the Sant Aniol d’Aguja refuge.
Reconstruction work went on for one and a half years and the new Serradell was ready to receive its first guests in Easter 2008
Because El Serradell is not connected to the electricity grid or to urban water pipelines it depends entirely on its own resources and on the sustainable behaviour of guests in order to guarantee basic utilities at all times.
El Serradell belongs to SEBA, a non-profit association specialised in installing electricity systems for isolated rural farmhouses. SEBA has installed and is in charge of maintenance for the solar panels at El Serradell. Their energy storage capacity guarantees electricity supply for 48/72 hours without any sunshine.
In practice this means that during most of the year there are no supply problems. In the months with less solar radiation it may be necessary to use the back-up system only if there are 2-3 consecutive days with thick clouds or rain, and if guests make a lot of use of electricity.
The house gets its hot water from a solar panel water heating system. During periods with less sunshine it may be necessary to use the butane gas backup system.
As regards the water supply, at El Serradell rainwater is collected in the house’s original water cisterns. During drought spells we fill the cisterns with water coming from nearby water springs, by no means a simple process. Therefore guests are requested to always be very sustainable as far as water consumption is concerned, a limited and highly valued resource in El Serradell.
The basic utilities at El Serradell are guaranteed but at the same time our guests need to collaborate with the proper functioning of the installations. Hence, the house is a real sustainability school for young and old alike.
El Serradell on Google Earth
There’s no better way to get a glimpse of El Serradell and it’s surroundings than to explore them from the sky. Enter and search “El Serradell” in Google Earth or just click here. The search results are astounding.