On 6 July 2021, the Bilbao Innovation Atelier held a workshop to focus on the rehabilitation of residential buildings in Zorrotzaurre area, where ATELIER project is developed. SURBISA, the Municipal Rehabilitation Management Society was in charge of the intervention in vulnerable buildings in Zorrotzaurre in the period from 2009 to 2020. Forty-two centuries old homes were rehabilitated. The actuations concern mainly safety and accessibility issues as well as the reinforcement of the envelopes and the improvement of insulation.
These solutions were successfully developed but over and above technical issues, it is important to highlight the model of citizen participation. The issue of approaching the neighbourhood from the beginning is addressed as a key tool for overcoming the difficulties involved in carrying out an urban transformation of these characteristics, focusing on the development of the project from a perspective of social cohesion always aligned to technical component. It is also remarkable that the population in Zorrotzaurre is of an elderly age and with a low social income, therefore the participation and the financing model should also be adapted to these characteristics.
The neighbourhood has been taken into consideration from the initial stage (2001-2004), endowing it with an active role, attending to its desire to remain, consolidating the existing stock of centennial homes, undergoing rehabilitation in the later phase under criteria of energy efficiency and accessibility in coexistence with the future blocks that will house around 5,000 new homes. In 2001 a Management Commission was formed, made up of the majority owners mobilized by the Neighbourhood Association, the City Council, the Port and companies that owned land. Subsequently, a neighborhood information office has been located in the neighbourhood itself. The Technical Architect attends the office every week to answer questions and queries.
Regarding the financial issues, four financial sources are enabled: the Management Commission who contributes 50% of the total expenses, the neighbourhood group and the City Council and the Basque Government contribute 48%. A special deposit is provided also by Kutxabank to manage spills and subsidies as support through joint accounts and microcredits are enabled from the Social Area as an innovative financing experience.
As a general conclusion, the project was a success regarding the challenge and difficulty of considering the link between history and future in relation to the concept of urban regeneration. Indeed, the process was successful in maintaining the idiosyncrasy and essence of the neighbourhood while at the same time adapting it to the new conditions of comfort and technology.