Skip to content


Download a story


Title of the Project: Zorrotzaurre Art Work in Progress (Spain) ZAWP

Please describe your action/project

ZAWP stands for Zorrotzaurre Art Work in Progress, a movement that was created in 2008 to address the newly-approved urban development plan for the neighbourhoods of Ribera de Deusto and Zorrotzaurre. In order to revitalize the area from its previous industrial history, we are working to change the landscape of the peninsula through culture and creativity, and encouraging people to see what the area has to offer.

ZAWP is an exercise of reflection and interpretation which, in turn, works on the economic and social regeneration of a degraded industrial area through the creation of opportunities based on culture and creativity and paves the way for other companies and initiatives to enter the area as well.

The initial objective of the project was to use the urban transformation for the generation of opportunities but during time, the project has become a movement and is affecting the future design of the Plan. For example, some buildings that were thrown in the initial Urban Plan, are saved. While ZAWP originated as an idea of a cultural non-profit association, it has evolved into practice as a citizens’ movement, open not only to those in the cultural and creative sector, but to all members of society.

The WORK LINES of the project was the following:

  • Promote creation through urban transformation
  • Enable, encourage, and promote creation, creative thinking, and working together, as well as mainstreaming projects into a permanent urban context.
  • Promote, enable, and execute the creation of the urban transformation through collaborative and transversal work.
  • Manage and promote ZAWP´s creative spaces.
  • Investigate new languages and tools in order to develop local and international connections.
  • Promote the conservation historical enhancement and development of La Ribera
  • Drawing attention to and valuing the current state of La Ribera’s environment, recognizing the peninsula’s industrial and port heritage and transformation, and witnessing the changes of La Ribera over time.
  • Conserve the industrial, social, and ecological heritage of La Ribera.
  • Highlight and memorialize La Ribera’s history through creation. Work towards local revitalization
  • Revitalize La Ribera by fostering a knowledge economy, and strengthening the – neighbourhood through the creation of economic, social, and urban regeneration opportunities.
  • Regenerate and revitalize economically, socially, and culturally.
  • Reimagine and reuse indoor and outdoor spaces. Prototyping a model of urban transit “Zone Art Work in Progress”
  • Participate in the change of transformation processes paradigm from the micro to the macro, placing value on the “meanwhile” and processes needed to be articulated.
  • Document the development process of ZAWP.
  • Design micro prototypes to serve other people and other projects.

Tell us something more about your project/activity:


While ZAWP originated as an idea of a cultural non-profit association, it has evolved into practice as a citizens’ movement, open not only to those in the cultural and creative sector, but to all members of society. Our efforts are directed towards developing pluralistic, intercultural, transdisciplinary and decentralized visions. As an independent social and cultural movement, we are a meeting place that stimulates the generation of ideas and initiatives. We are a laboratory for research, artistic creation and production, as well as a platform for collective learning and social innovation.

The space-installations were developed as part of ZAWP’s initiative to make an ecosystem that allows not only a place to work, but also to live.

The sustainability of our space depends largely on the design of a funding model that reduces economic dependence on other agents and the assumption of an economic logic and mixed financing that meets principles of redistribution (public and private grants and investments), reciprocity (volunteering, in kind exchanges, etc.) and self-financing through profitable market initiatives. However, none of these principles should be assumed to fall into subjugation and/or precariousness.

Duration: From 2008 and ongoing

Location: Bilbao, neighbourhood of La Ribera de Deusto y Zorrozaurre

Field/discipline: Revitalization through creation

The actors

Haceria Arteak is a non-profit cultural association emerged in Bilbao, in February 1997, date on which it takes an industrial space to devote to artistic creation, in a port and post-industrial area as it is La Ribera de Deusto. This space takes its name from Haceria Aretoa.

Years later, in 2008, the association puts the first seed of Zorrotzaurre Art Work in Progress, better known as ZAWP, in the context of the neighbourhood in which it operates from its origins: a space in urban transformation, a space of possibilities in which hACERIA Arteak wants to provide a different look, instead of being a passive witness.

Currently, these are the two most visible developed projects by the Association, also promotes other initiatives of cultural and urban attractions.

The Association Haceria Arteak implements in its organization, as in all of its projects, the investigation, development, and innovation as its central focus, and is promoted by its own association, as well as through support initiatives working in the same direction.

For us, striving in this direction means strengthening our projects and creations, and generating social change that stems from areas that are both social and cultural.

The pursuit of knowledge, change, and solution…the forefront. In turn, we have launched iSIFUERA, apart from working in the research, development, and innovation of all processes related to our association, as a new project of a social and technological nature.


• 2008 Ercilla Award for 10 years work in theater

• co-founding of the Network of creative experiences of Basque Country – Karraskan

• 2012 The Association hACERIA Arteak is selected to be part of Trans Europe Halles (Network of European independent cultural spaces)

• 2013 co-founding of the Network of Independent Cultural Spaces Tansibérica

• 2013 Development and production of the I and II EDITION FASTlab Bilbao-Bordeaux-Bilbao.

• 2013 ZAWP was selected as a participant in the exhibition project “Smartcitizens” organized by “Traversal Landscape” (Madrid)

• 2014 Celebration of 10 years of hACERIA Jazz Club with Juan Claudio Cifuentes as special guest

• 2014 The Association hACERIA Arteak with our ZAWP project becomes part of the European project OOS – Origin of Spaces

• 2014 we joined the European Youth Award network

• 2014 ZAWP recognized as creative territory “III Forum of cities and creative territories of Spain” (Gran Canaria)

• 2015 ZAWP begins his participation in the project CREhAbana, with Oficina del Historiador (Havana-Cuba) y Tecnalia Research & Innovation Foundation (Basque Country)

• 2015 the Association makes an agreement with the Latin American Foundation for Cultural and Creative Industries

• 2015 started to be part of the network of international artistic residencies: RES ARTIS

• 2015 Triodos Bank select us from 6 reference projects in Spain in the fields of Culture, Social Innovation and Environment.

The people who received the most significant impact

In our case, there is a wide typology of people are benefiting. First, the local people who see, again, the neighbourhood comes alive. This life, in turn, bring more services to the district and generates wealth for part of the industry installed in the area. On the other hand, we support hundreds of creative people throughout the year. And finally, we attract a large audience, increasingly. ZAWP is a creator of opportunities and, from this point of view, is also a generator of employment.

3 becas “DARE TO CHANGE”.

11 Residencies research and creation: software, design, circus, dance, music, cultural management, paint and photography

Total residencias artísticas15

– Promotion and Strengthening Innovative and Creative Business Initiatives.

– Creation and maintenance of about 30 indirect jobs, according to data provided by the initiatives themselves.

– Creation of an annual average of 10 direct jobs.

– Since the beginning of ZAWP until now it has contributed to the creation and consolidation of more than 50 innovative companies associated with employing approximately 150 people.

– Maintenance of cultural and artistic fabric in Bilbao through projects, new businesses and existing businesses that represent opportunity for cultural, economic and social development.

– Tractor Project for other companies and initiatives of creative economy in Bilbao and La Ribera – Zorrotzaurre.

– ZAWP consolidates as “shuttle” of innovative and creative initiatives boosting its professional quality.

– ZAWP facilitates the necessary tools to the projects for its drive and enables contacts with other initiatives, both state and international, and future collaborations that can mean survival for many of these.

– Since 2008 we have developed more than 2,500 performances of cultural promotion, artistic, leisure and social Zorrotzaurre in the neighbourhood.

– Involvement in European projects and European cultural and social innovation and Latin American networks.

– Support for the creation, research and entrepreneurship, as well as new forms of transformation.

– More than 30 volunteers have collaborated and participated in the activities during the year.

– Very positive evaluation by the hosting and restoration sector of the area and surroundings.

– The activities undertaken facilitates togetherness, enjoyment of the neighbors and the external projection of an image of Bilbao as socio-cultural city, and innovative entertainment.

– Improvement of the infrastructure in the neighbourhood.

– ZAWP has a big audiovisual archive (interviews and old photographs) of residents and businesses in La Ribera – Zorrotzaurre in continuous expansion.

– Children weekly educational program in Basque, English and Spanish.

– Recovery from 2010 to 7600 m2 of industrial land for creative economy directly, triples value when you consider the initiatives that have moved to the neighbourhood from the ZAWP experience.

– Guided tours, also taking into Bilbao International (City Council) and universities, with more than 500 people.

– Inclusion in networks of over 7,000 photos approx. 200 hung video (Youtube and Vimeo), about 20,000 views, more than 5,000 visits to our website, … The satisfaction of participants, both public as artists, creators, collaborators, … is evident in networks social.

Was the impact planned from the start?

The initial objective of the project was to use the urban transformation for the generation of opportunities but we never calculated the impact it has had in reality. The project has become a movement.

Furthermore, the purpose was that the initiative would affect that period of time when urban transformation unfolds. However, we are now aware that it is affecting the future design of the Plan. For example, some buildings that were thrown in the initial Urban Plan, are saved.

The context


Zorrozaurre (in Basque and officially Zorrotzaurre) is the name given to the peninsula formed after digging the Canal of Deusto in Bilbao, Biscay, Basque Country. The name is a compound of the basque words Zorroza (Zorrotza: sharp) and aurre (in front of) neighbourhood located at the left side of the river. It is officially part of the district of San Pedro de Deusto La Ribera, although traditionally has been considered a separate district. Zorrozaurre project is the last major urban regeneration operation in Bilbao city. Since the seventies this is a neighbourhood in continuous industrial and social decline and in which nowadays live only five hundred neighbours approximately (with squatters and immigrants without documentation People who have occupied buildings).

The urban area of Zorrozaurre occupies a total area of 838,781m2, of which more than a half belong to public entities (Basque Government, Bilbao City Council and Port Authority of Bilbao) the remainder being shared between various private owners. In the midsixties Zorrozaurre was immersed in an industrial strength era, fueled by the unfinished opening of Deusto Canal by the Port of Bilbao.

In 1995, following the approval of Bilbao s General Management LandUse Planning, the industrial use of Zorrozaurre became residential.

Over time, The drafting of a Special Plan is requested, in the urban design of the area. In 2001, public and private owners of Zorrozaurre constitute the Zorrozaurre Management Committee for the Urban Development to promote and implement the plan of the urban regeneration of the area.

The Master Plan of the project has been designed by the AngloIraqi architect Zaha Hadid. Developed in 2004 and revised in 2007, it includes the complete opening of Deusto Chanel, transforming the peninsula of Zorrozaurre in island.

In November 2012 the Bilbao City Council finally approved the Special Plan of Zorrozaurre.


It is important to understand that ZAWP is not just the pavilions, these are only a tool. Our activity exceeds that limitation focusing on the whole area of La Ribera and connecting also nationally and internationally. Therefore, the future for us is not limited to the existence of the pavilions we manage. Obviously, ZAWP will mutate as the urban plan advances. However, ZAWP has been thought from its beginning to settle in temporality, in the meanwhile of the transformation process, since this is a real uncertainty interval for citizens.


Surbisa (public company of the City of Bilbao made to encourage urban rehabilitation of residential buildings of the municipality) is responsible for coordinating and processing rehabilitations: of the 47 existing residential buildings, 42 were considered likely to be rehabilitated. Of these 42, 17 buildings have completed reforms; 8 have scaffolding placed, and

10 more are with the project or in the process of management. Therefore, only 7 buildings would be pending of rehabilitation.

The reforms have been significant, as many of these houses are over a hundred years old, and the maintenance performed has been little or no for decades, due to uncertainty in the area.

Therefore, they have had to strengthen the pillars of some buildings and incorporated thermal insulation and other energy efficiency measures proposed by Surbisa. With the works, buildings have gained access, and elevators were built in blocks of more than three floors.

Since being processed, the declaration of Integrated Rehabilitation Ribera de Deusto Zorrotzaurre Area, residents have benefited from substantial subsidies, to undertake the rehabilitation works. It is estimated that the rehabilitation work completed in 2017.

Industrial activity

In Ribera de Deusto Zorrozaurre hundred companies with over a thousand workers remain active. Workshops and pavilions occupy about 200,000 square meters, a third of the surface area.

The Basque Department of Industry, and the Bilbao City Council, signed the agreement which Sprilur, public society for the promotion of soil, will be responsible for the rehabilitation of some old buildings as: thermoelectrics Consonni, Elorriaga Electric Industries (Lancor) both unemployed for years. There are few industrial landscapes, with many nuances, such as Ribera de Deusto Zorrozaurre.

Large enterprises, workshops of craft and few workers, huge warehouses with modules for rent, and disused pavilions still with owners. They are pictures that do not fit in the promising urban development of the area, although many of them do not see clearly the way out.

Industrial activity, or what remains of it, occupies about 200,000 square meters, a third of the surface of the future island. There are a hundred companies active where they work between 1,200 and 1,500 people.


With the completion of the Canal for industrial purposes, the peninsula was born in 1968, forty- seven years after the annexation of this industrial and port riverside of Bilbao. Until then, all this land consisted of open fields, which housed the famous Deusto tomatoes and bourgeois homes, among other things. Today, it seems to be an industrial area in decline.

However, this is a neighbourhood where, in addition to a declining industry, live about four hundred neighbours, most of them are elderly, quite cut off from each other due to the elongated shape of the peninsula, which prevents the creation of different walkways, and sufficient meeting places. Two neighbourhoods generated around a single riverside: La Ribera de Deusto and Zorrotzaurre. Therefore, there is not only one differentiated territorial identity from the rest of the city, but also within the peninsula itself.

It is an area that was left out of the industrial restructuring process of, and that affected the closest places to the center of Bilbao. This circumstance has made to stay in a different reality to the rest of their environment. An environment that has been changing urban, social and economically to new ways of understanding life and the development of the city.

Meanwhile, at the peninsula, the industrial activity has been declining but, nevertheless, it retains much of its personality, because this activity has not disappeared completely, there has not been a drastic break with its past, maintaining, over the time, its particular rhythm and lifestyle, reinforced by the geographical / physical characteristic of peninsularity.

Currently, its facing the start of a restructuring process that will last more than fifty years.

It is in this context that we call Meanwhile Meantime, from where we started and developed our project.

Expected and actual results

When the association started the project, it plans to start an initiative that would demonstrate to citizens that our neighbourhood is a neighbourhood of possibilities. Revitalize the area thought creation. However, we do not imagine the real impact that eventually provoke. In 2008, just 3 small cultural projects were in the neighbourhood. Today, our district has been colonized by dozens of initiatives that have realized what we wanted to prove. So today our neighbourhood is the main creative neighbourhood in the city of Bilbao. And institutions recognize this.


ZAWP project has grown rapidly in recent years. Therefore, today, it is very important for us to be economically sustainable. Although we started with no budget would today our budget is approaching five hundred thousand euros. Half of this budget comes from our self-financing and the other half from grants: Bilbao City Council, Bizkaia Provincial Council, the Basque Government and the Spanish Government. For us it is interesting that this public funding comes from multiple agencies making it less risky for the stability of our budget.

Undoubtedly, our most important resource is the mix of people (the ecosystem) and time. This combination is what allows advance ZAWP constantly adapting to the cultural and social needs. In short, the level of involvement of the people who make ZAWP is maximum. When we talk about people not only talk about staff, we also talk about all those accompanying partners helping us to make progress in each of our activities.

The main change

We believe that our greatest successes has been the local partnership. We are an interface between institutions, neighbors, industry and creative agents. Do a good job showing people with facts and not words. In turn, it is essential to know how to negotiate with all those involved in our project because, this way, it is possible to involve them and assist us in building objectives.

The main area of impact

Actually, there are many areas of life that ZAWP affects. On the one hand we have created dozens of jobs but we also connected creative people with investors or other agents that has helped them developing their projects.

On the other hand, we exert an important social work with many of our activities, especially the workshops, which have helped many people get out of diseases, depressions …

We value the work of artists and creators, giving them the place they deserve and causing people to mix with them without fear of being different. We have brought the culture and art to the people.

As mentioned above, this project has affected even the future development of the Urban Plan whose promoters have decided to change some parts of the design to accommodate the whole creative ecosystem in the new neighbourhood.

And finally, we have achieved that everyone knows our neighbourhood. An unknown neighbourhood inside the city. And the few people who knew him, was because he was demoted, had crime, etc.

The Big Idea

This is a compelling story about the impact of the urban plan in the public and private management of the meanwhile. The Different synergies in Zorrozaurre and La Ribera de Deusto has framed the nowadays local partnerships.

In short, during the years as the urban plan advanced, ZAWP mutated his initial identity based in the Local <Zorrozaurre to Zone>. Turning ZAWP in an atemporal form, from a located action to a modus operandi. Changing and enabling a team of people and formulas to take action in different meanwhiles that are suffering urban transformation process.