Bilbao projects a 'city of cinema' in Punta Zorroza with a large film set

Bilbao projects a 'city of cinema' in Punta Zorroza with a large film set

Luis López

Wednesday, May 3, 2023

Bilbao has been wanting to resurrect Punta Zorroza for some time, a gray and degraded but very promising part of the city, located in the very confines of the town. That moment is coming. The municipal government board has approved this Wednesday the tender for a contest of ideas in which it will define what will be there, and how. It is about reactivating an area of ​​321,035 square meters where some 2,000 new floors are going to be built, a large space dedicated to the audiovisual industry is expected (with film sets, training areas, for production, related trades, etc.) and 100,000 square meters squares of green spaces.

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a movie set

In the future of Punta Zorroza, 108,740 square meters of buildable area are planned for economic activity. Specifically, to the creation of “an audiovisual ‘hub'”. This newspaper already advanced last January that the intention was that, to generate wealth linked to the film industry, after several pavilions in the area have been used as a stage to film movies (‘El Hoyo’, for example). In addition, for a few years both the city and Bizkaia have been gaining weight as settings for this type of production.

Now they want to consolidate this activity, and also promote it. The Punta Zorroza space dedicated to her will be “from Molinos Vascos to the Zorroza workshops,” says councilor Asier Abaunza. The project must decide whether to maintain the existing pavilions or replace them with new ones. In any case, among the services that will be offered there will be a virtual digital set, spaces for production, areas for trades linked to the cinematographic world (electricians, carpenters, etc.), training rooms, offices, storage, dining rooms, dressing rooms… The complex must also have direct access to the sheet of water and “three or four filming exteriors of between 1,000 and 2,500 square meters each,” says the councilor.

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What can expedite the urban development of Punta Zorroza is that half of the land, of those 321,035 square meters, is owned by public institutions. Essentially the City Council, who owns the old slaughterhouse where the crane parking lot is now, the Txinbo park, the docks purchased from the Port of Bilbao and the pavilions next to the estuary. Of course, there are also private companies such as Sader and Profersa, meat companies or “an ambulance parking lot”. Relocation agreements will have to be reached with all of them.

In addition, the aim is to improve accessibility with three new bridges: one, the largest, will be the one already planned that will connect with Zorrozaurre and that will be prepared for the tram, traffic, bikes and pedestrians. And there will be two other pedestrian streets that reach Elorrieta and Burtzeña, in Barakaldo.

“We are recovering the habit of holding ideas competitions to design opportunity spaces,” explains Asier Abaunza, Councilor for Works, Urban Planning and Strategic Projects. The same model that is used with Abando is being followed: convening a process in which different firms (mainly architecture studios) contribute their vision for the urban development of an area that is to be reactivated.

Of course, always according to some minimums. The elements to fit are, first of all, the landscape recovery of the Cadagua, which separates Bilbao from Barakaldo, and the rehabilitation of the quays next to the estuary, which are intended as a recreation area and with a leading role as a hotelier.

In second place, and as a vital element in a city with a highly stressed real estate market, is the construction of some 2,000 new homes (198,669 square meters built). “45% will have some type of protection,” says Abaunza. That is, they will be either VPO or appraised, which is a minimum of 5% of what the law establishes. The project must decide whether to go for taller buildings that leave more free ground, or for low buildings that consume more space but are not overwhelming. The councilor says that there are no urban conditions that limit the operation.

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In residential terms, furthermore, it will be necessary to act on various buildings that already exist in the area, on Barinaga street, whose future is also in the hands of the project: it could be that they are rehabilitated, or that the families that reside there are rehoused in the new promotions. They are, in total, “3,422 square meters” the space built in these pre-existing free houses.

Another aspect to fit has to do with accessibility: the three bridges mentioned. The one that goes to Zorrozaurre is well known and the ramp from which the infrastructure will depart has been on the island for months. Then, in addition, there will be “a pedestrian walkway” to Burtzeña. And there will be another in the opposite direction, to Elorrieta, which will join the other bank of the estuary with the point where the Zorroza workshops are located. The latter “will have to be either very high or mobile to allow the passage of boats,” reveals Abaunza. Because the ships must be able to reach the Dock of the Shipyard (where the Sader company is now).

things in the air

So that all this is not separated from the rest of Zorroza by the Renfe Cercanías route, the tracks are going to be buried (not to be confused with those of Feve at the other end of the neighbourhood). And this operation will be paid for from the profits generated by the urban development operation that is going to be carried out, because, in this case, “the burying will not release soil”, that is, it will not be possible to build there, “rather it will be pure load, “says councilor Abaunza.

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It is clear that the project is ambitious. How much will it cost? When will he land in the world of reality? That remains to be seen. From the City Council they prefer not to make forecasts. As for the amount of the operation, we will have to see what comes out of the ideas contest and its final realization. As for time, it is even more up in the air. At the moment, today the tender for the contest is published; and before the summer, the various interested firms must present their proposals. The adjudication, according to the councilor Abaunza, will be in September. And from that moment the plans will be drawn up. “The provisional approval” of the urban document will arrive “at the end of 2024”. In parallel, the informative study of the burial will be carried out, the approval of which will depend on the central government.

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