Zorrotzaure urban regeneration project

Redevelopment program for flood protection

An initiative of Management Commission of the urban Development of Zorrotzaure

Overview of the project

The projet

Zorrotzaurre is an abandoned industrial peninsula situated in the Nerbioi River. Its development plan includes the construction of 5.473 new dwellings and 202.129 square meters (25% of the total surface area) of construction for economic activity .

The Zorrotzaurre urban regeneration project includes five key measures:

  • opening the Deusto canal (turning the peninsula into an island)
  • providing a flood protection wall
  • elevating the ground level by 1,5 meters for new buildings
  • installing storm water tanks
  • providing green, public spaces. The costs are being covered by a public-private partnership.


Bilbao’s ‘Zorrotzaurre’ district is currently a degraded, flood-prone industrial peninsula. With increasing extreme precipitation predicted across the Basque country in the future due to climate change and a need for new housing to accommodate citizens of Bilbao, a major urban regeneration project has been put in place to redevelop Zorrotzaurre district into a new flood-proof residential quarter.

Costs incurred by Bilbao’s metropolitan area associated with river flood events have been estimated at €5.5 million for a once in 10 year rainfall event (T=10), €241 million for a once in 100 year event (T=100), and €444 million for a once in 500 year rainfall event (T=500) (lower range of estimates). Taking climate change into account, however, the expected damage costs incurred by the heightened flood risk of Bilbao’s metropolitan area may rise by 56.4% compared to these estimates.

Bilbao is a city with a thriving economy and an expanding service sector. As a consequence, the city faces a high demand for new housing units and related infrastructures. As Bilbao is located in a valley, it has little space to expand and solutions must be found within the current built environment.


To turn Zorrotzaurre from an industrial site to a residential area. This first and foremost requires adequate protection from flooding.

Level of progress


Project timeline


Quantitative results

Starting with the works

Qualitative results

The redevelopment of Zorrotzaurre is a slow and complex project which was also affected by the economic crisis that unfolded since the publication of the revised plan in 2007. Several factors make up the complexity of the project and delay its execution:

  • The great number of stakeholders involved, including the municipality, landowners and residents.
  • Soil pollution because of previous industrial activities.
  • Moving industries: the plan also involves the demolishment of several buildings and the relocation of 30 companies to other locations outside of Zorrotzaurre.

On the other hand, one of the greatest assets to the project is the investment vehicle that has been concluded: the great number of landowners of all sizes gathered in the public-private partnership (the ’Comisión Gestora de Zorrotzaurre’). The partnership includes a Coordination Board and a Management Board, which oversees the execution of the works and facilitates the coordination and operation of the project.

Video presentation of the initiative

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About the

Management Commission of the urban Development of Zorrotzaure

Pablo Otaola
Manager of the commission
+34 944 230 642

In 2001, public and private Zorrotzaurre owners formed a Management Commission for the Urban Development of Zorrotzaurre, to promote and execute the urban regeneration plan of the area. The main stakeholders are the Region (Basque Country) and the City of Bilbao.

The tasks of the Comisión Gestora is to produce all the planning documents, the urbanization projects and to carry out all the urbanization work. Besides it is in charge of the depollution of the land.