The privacy of gaze: the inhabitance throughout The Mansions of Saint Teresa


Mercedes Camina del Amo

Concha Lapayese Luque



Examining board
Juan Miguel Hernádez León (Pdte.),
Iñaki Ábalos
Roberta Almirante
Joaquín Grau
Pilar Vega

The thesis aims to analyze, from an architectural point of view, the act of inhabitance of Teresa of Avila, revealing the links established between interiority and exteriority and materialized in the privacy of her gaze. It will attempt to reproduce this particular gaze over the traces that have survived until the present.

In the case of Saint Teresa we can define three scales of relations of the type “interior-private” which conduct her journeys and, consequently, the development of the thesis: the tree levels of the adverb “inside”: INTRA (adverb, “on the inside, within”) – INTERIOR (comparative degree, “more inside than”) – INTIMUS (superlative degree, “innermost”). These three allow for a transversal research, spanning from the large scale logic of the foundations to the most private space of the Interior Castle, and embracing the “itinerant cloisters” she dwelt within during her travels, the habitation and reconversion of old houses for new foundations, and the minimal cells of the newly built ones.

INTRA (on the inside, within). The first chapter in an approximation to the gaze of Teresa of Jesus, as a form of inhabiting a territory: the wanderings. The logic of the Teresian journeys through the territory follows the logic of monastic time. Teresa of Avila travelled in carriages, converting them into itinerant cloisters of a nomad inhabitance, characterized by a particular handling of time and silence, and by the employment of objects that belong to the monastic dwelling. The chapter begins with a territorial analysis of the wanderings that cover the most characteristic areas of Castile, to further on extract the meaning of the journey as an experience as well as a particular gaze over the territory

INTERIOR (more inside than). The second chapter deepens into interiority, approaching the cloisters as spaces of domesticity and the individual cell as a nucleu s of privacy. The logic of the Foundations unveils a territorial relationship that defines each one of them. This territorial network, as a rhizome, allowed for an array of intense communications and connections while, at the same time, the particular location of the foundations within the city en sured places for silence and desert. They are spaces of silence, structured as interconne cted islands and archipelagos. Further on, the analysis approaches the individual cell as a nucleu s of privacy: the alcove. It seeks to establish the relationship between space and body within the habitat, the pursuit of silence and the advance towards interiority through the vacuum of space.

INTIMUS (innermost). Finally, the research wedges in the space of privacy, into the most recondite of the habitat. It is through the metaphor that this interior landscape is revealed and conveyed. We can define it as a creative act, through which we can approach the objects that stay away from everyday experience, suggesting them without pretending to exhaust entirely their meaning. The different metaphors that express the mystical experience of Teresa of Avila, are all examined from this point of view. The castle, the mountains, the garden , the void, or the heart, appear as places of habitat, as different spaces or dwellings of privacy. In her writings, Teresa of Jesus seeks not only to communicate this inner landscape, but also to examine it and understand it through the mystical or the poetic reason. This way of thinking undergoes a process of transformation – from a method of apprehension of reality into a mystical attitude of the being and the word. In her Interior Castle , she feels the necessity of the route so as to narrate her personal experience of interiority and privacy.