IURC Latin America is thrilled to report the completion of its regional event in Bilbao, Spain, which focused on urban regeneration and post-industrial development. The event took place from October 18th to 20th, 2023, and brought together over 20 delegates from seven countries, including representatives from 18 cities and 2 regions.
Bilbao, a city renowned for its remarkable transformation, served as the ideal backdrop for learning and discussing about urban regeneration, urban design, urban finance and land management, environmental remediation, among other topics. In the past, Bilbao faced a socio-economic crisis due to deindustrialization but turned this adversity into an opportunity for revitalization. The city’s transformation began with the development of multistakeholder and multilevel urban development plans, complemented by ambitious urban regeneration and infrastructure projects along the city’s riverfront and port area. One of the most important projects was the relocation of the port outside the city, thus enabling the transformation of Abandoibarra into a modern, pedestrian-friendly neighbourhood home to new office spaces, hotels, shopping malls, parks and the world-famous Guggenheim Museum. The regeneration of the city’s riverfront was complemented by the environmental recovery of the Ria (Bilbao’s main river), the construction of new bridges and elevators, as well as the improvement of the city’s public transportation network. The substantial investment in urban regeneration projects and public infrastructure was possible due to the availability, management and sale of public land.
On the first day, delegates engaged in a workshop, fostering valuable connections and providing a space to explore topics of interest amongst IURC delegates. Francesco Vescovi, Urban Planning Officer from Commune di Milano, and Pedro Martin Fernandes, Senior Advisor for the Secretary of Urbanism and Licensing at Sao Paulo City Hall, shared insights into the best practices in urban regeneration from their respective cities, presenting the comparative study and urban regeneration guidelines that resulted from their cooperation.
During the second day, delegates received a comprehensive introduction to the city by Asier Abaunzua, Counsellor for Urban Planning, Strategic Projects and public spaces, including its strategic projects, stakeholders, and future plans. They were also introduced to the pivotal role played by “Bilbao Ría 2000,” in managing land and structuring urban regeneration projects. The highlight of the day was a boat tour along “La Ría,” during which the delegates could witness first-hand the urban transformation of Abandoibarra and its industrial history.
The final day began with a meeting involving Juan Carlos Sinde, Manager for the “Junta de Concertación” of Zorrotzaure, responsible for the coordination and implementation of the Zorrotzaure special urban development plan. Subsequently, Idoia Postigo, Director General of Bilbao Metropoli-30, presented the work of the non-profit association established in 1991 to promote the city’s revitalization. This innovative entity encourages public-private collaboration, fosters a shared vision for the city, embraces community participation, forms international alliances, and executes transformative projects, ideas, and actions. The visit culminated in a guided visit to the iconic Guggenheim Museum.
This event not only provided a valuable platform for delegates to share their expertise in urban regeneration as applied to their respective cities and regions but also offered a unique perspective on Bilbao’s remarkable journey. The city has revolutionized its urban landscape through visionary projects, providing an inspiring model for urban development.