FROM IRON TO TITANIUM. USING DESIGN TO TRANSFORM A CITY
The story of a vision and a strategy capable of bringing a city in decline up to the highest international recognition. A transformation able to generate a greater sense of civic pride, confidence in the future and a major universal projection.
Founded in 1300 AD, its strategic location as a port for sending goods from the Kingdom of Castile to Europe, allowed Bilbao to write its history as a city of merchants first, strengthened by the high activity of the mines after and later, in the nineteenth century, becoming the capital of the industrial area of the Iberian Peninsula.
Throughout the twentieth century, Bilbao grows spectacularly thanks to its economic and industrial boom, becoming a great city that bears the consequences of a massive migration flow that is installed on working-class neighbourhoods, but the catastrophic crisis of 1983 will affect this impressive economic and industrial expansion, it will be one of the worst crises in its history.
The devastating floods in the city that year, together with the economic, urban, environmental and social crisis, left Bilbao in a bleak and uncertain situation that made the city get to the bottom. Nothing seemed to predict the rebirth that the city would experience, driven by the enthusiasm and vision of the brand new Autonomy of Euskadi, after 40 years of dictatorship in Spain.
The need and the opportunity to reinvent arise with the constitution of the Parliament and the Basque Government, that begin to face new challenges, with the participation of all institutions and the consensus among all political parties and administrations involved. The determination of political leaders was able to overcome the initial reluctance of many social, political, union and cultural sectors. Moreover, the Guggenheim Museum project, which became one of the key factors of the regeneration process of Bilbao: the confidence of the citizenship.
This new icon of the city is the most visible tip of the large iceberg that represents the paradigmatic urban transformation that Bilbao has experienced in 25 years, which could be summarized in 25 projects, which include: economic and urban transformation, rebalancing between the centre of the city and its neighbourhoods, improving the training of human resources, internationalization of the city and its economy and the well-being and human development.