The former industrial city of Bilbao is looking for a new multi-functional face. Since 1992, derelict industrial sites have been the subject of innovative redevelopment projects managed by a non-profitmaking enterprise, BILBAO Ría 2000 Ltd. The objective of the Company was to recover disused industrial land and add it to the general city structure, within the framework of new cityscaping plans drawn up by the Authorities. Port activity and related railway infrastructure also began to move beyond the estuary to free up more space for general city use.
The Abandoibarra Ametzola Southern Routing, known as OAVS, was the first major task taken on by BILBAO Ría 2000, and it provides a perfect synopsis of Company objectives. This operation combined work on the city and the railway systems to use available space to best advantage, using surplus land to improve the appearance of the city . Abandoibarra lies adjacent to the banks of the River Nervión. It is an area of 345,000 sq.m between the Guggenheim Museum and the Euskalduna Music and Conference Hall; the city's process of urban regeneration is gradually making it the cultural and business heart of Bilbao. Ametzola, formerly goods train stations, is now a residential area, with a new 36,000 sq.m park built over the old railway tracks. The Southern Rail Routing modified rail access from the left bank of the river to draw these areas closer to the city centre. The operation built four new stations and remodelled two more on the original goods route. This connected Bilbao's southern districts to the city centre and to the entire left bank of the Nervión. It also removed the physical barrier of the previous rail infrastructure, which ran along the river and made it impossible to provide a connection between the city and the banks of the Nervión.
The Jury said:
Abandoibarra is an impressive example of the creation of a new cultural and business district in the heart of the city with residential buildings, public facilities and open green spaces. Ametzola shows how the railway, formerly an obstacle, was reorganised and integrated. On the old freight route, the South Railway Transformation connects the city centre and the left bank of the river Nervión.
The jury was impressed by the outstanding strategic approach of this very complex city transformation. It overcomes structural barriers and creates new linkages. The spatial concept suits current and future needs. Its central location clearly enhances its importance for the rest of the city. The advantage it brings to the city is its contemporary and unified image, an essence of the whole territory based on a high quality of urban design down to the last detail.The connection of social, economic and ecological aspects makes the project sustainable; the way it was implemented is an example for many other European transformation projects.