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1998 Spanish Best Practices selected by the International Jury >

From the Iron of the Valley to the Iron Valley, Gipozkoa (Spain)

Para consultar la versión en castellano de este documento, pulse aquí.

Reference Date: 26-07-1998

Experience selected in the 1998 Dubai Award for Best Practice, and catalogued as BEST. ( Best Practices Database.)
País/Country: Spain

United Nations Region: Europe
Ecological region: River Basin
Activity: Village
Partnerships: Foundation, Local Authority, Private Sector, Para-statal.

Themes = Desarrollo económico: creación de empresas (sectores formal e informal); training. Environmental Management: ecological sustainability; environmental remediation; resource management. Urban and Regional Planning: community-based planning; consultative process; cultural heritage conservation; regional planning; regional resource planning

Main contact:
Aurelio González
Fundación Lenbur
Bikuña Enea, Cajetín 52
Post Office
20230 Gipuzkoa
Tel: +34-94 373 18 95
Fax: +34-94 373 18 86

Juan Ramón Larrañaga Mercero
Legazpi Town Hall (Local Authority)
Plaza Euskal Herria
20230 Legazpi
Tel: +34-94 373 08 00
Fax: +34-94 373 06 76
Financial Support

Patricio Echeverría Aguirre
Corporación Patricio Echeverría (Foundation)
Urola, 10
20230 Gipuzkoa
Tel: +34-94 373 00 00
Fax: +34-94 373 14 47
Financial Support

Pedro Ustarroz
Instituto Nacional de Empleo (INEM). (Para-statal)
Okendo, 16
Instituto Nacional de Empleo
San Sebastián
20004 Gipuzkoa
Tel: +34-94 343 17 44
Fax: +34-94 342 69 12
Financial Support

Nominating Organization
Marta García Nart
Comité Nacional Español
Paseo de la Castellana, 67
28071 Madrid
Tlf: +34-91 597 75 72
Fax: +34-91 597 86 04

Key Dates

1980-90: Industry recovery process
1990-93: Awareness and desing stage
1992 and so on: Museum of industry, natural park, rehabilitation of the city centre
1994 and so on: Training
1997: LENBUR foundation.


Urola Garaia is a region located in the heart of Gipuzkoa, composed of the towns of Legazpi, Zumarraga, Urretxu and Ezkio-Itsaso. As the financial recourses basically came from the industry (siderurgy) the crisis in the branch, occurred toward the end of the 80's affected dramatically the population.
Arising from this situation a group integrated by the local administrations, the private sector and particulars brought to life the LENBUR project focused on searching new ways for revitalising the region.

The fairs dominating in the 90's decreased when a combined movement of different agents was capable of overcome the trend to depressive situation. As consequence of the project the following results appears as evident:

  1. Economical diversification.
  2. Recuperation of degraded areas and control of uncontrolled deposits.
  3. Issuing an Strategic Policy for regional
    developing including territorial arrangement policies.
  4. Restoration of city buildings and its integration in the tourist project.
  5. Inclusion of the training as a driver for development.

From the acknowledgement acquired through this experience we can distinguish as a very important point the need to create an organism for boosting, managing and performing the project step by step.


1. Situation Before the Initiative Began
The region of Urola Garaia with 30,000 inhabitants consists of the towns of Legazpi, Zumarraga, Urretxu and Ezkio-Itsaso and is located in the middle of Gipuzkoa. Its financial recourses came basically from the industry. Legazpi was a special
case as the 90% of its resources depended closely on the siderurgical company Patricio Echeverría, that engageed in the 80's 3,000 persons. From 1980 to 1990 staff was drastically reduced to only 1,000 workers, impacting seriously the population, as this company played a relevant role in both social and educative functions, that is to say that its role was paternalist. The dependency of the population was total.
Basically we can distinguish economic as well as social and psychological effects derived from this dependency.

Preparing Information and Clarifying Priorities

Five top points were established for action:

  1. To support the economical diversification. An industrial building was blought for museum. An piece of land of 10 km2has been destined for recreation and tourism.
  2. To recuperate degraded areas and control uncontrolled deposits. To awaken the population to environment responsibilities (selective refuse collection, recycling of glass, paper, batteries, packages).
  3. To issue a Strategic Policy for regional development including territorial arrangement.
  4. To restore city buildings and its integration in the tourist project (Palace of Bikuña, Iron Place of Mirandaola, the Mill of Igaralde).
  5. To include the training as a driver for development (training of forgers and environmental specialist).
A group of persons refused to accept the emerging consequences and began the search for chances of revitalisation. From the first moment on the local administrations took part actively and decisively.
After uncountable work meetings decision was made in favour of re-using the land in order to create possible income sources.
Although constituted in 1997 the LENBUR Foundation managed the whole process from the beginning. The activities of the LENBUR Foundation started under the local administrations but gradually other organisations joined the project and worked
The LENBUR Foundation integrates the local administrations, the private sector and particulars. Among the first ones are the Town
Councils of Legazpi, Urretxu, Zumarraga and Ezkio-Itsaso
. They began their activities in 1990 supporting the project both financially and politically, making over own installations to the
Foundation. Among the private sector within the Foundation count the company Patricio Echeverria Corporation wich support the project from the beginning through financial and material support.
The Companies GSB, FPL, Urola Sociedad Cooperativa and Zorrotz Comercial joined between 1994 and 1996, and collaborate financially. In 1996 entered the Foundation the famous sculptor Eduardo Chillida.
The continuous activity of the Foundation stimulates new people to join the project. Different NGO's and citizen associations support the project with social, technical and human support. the political and financial support of the Mancomunidad Urola Garaia begins in 1991. 1992 the association for rural development GOIMEN joins and puts at disposal of the Foundation its staff and material resources. The European Union collaborated also through RESIDER II and FSE from 1994 to 1996. The Departaments of Tourism and Culture of the Basque Government as well as the
Diputation of Gipuzkoa collaborate politically and financially from 1994 on. The University of tha Basque Country contribute in 1996 with human and material resources to investigate the
pre-industrial and industrial heritage. The necessary needs in training are covered since 1994 by the financial and technical support of the Spanish National Institute for Employ (INEM). Spanish Railway Network (RENFE) has offered the use of its
network and equipment, and KUTXA (regional bank) inverted the money for starting up the Foundation and subscribed an agreement for financial collaboration in the projects and tasks of the

2. Formulation of Objectives, Strategies and Mobilization of Resources
Based on the above mentioned priorities three major objectives were set up:

These three objectives were carried out as follows:

  1. Creation of a Working Team for searching, designing and issuing a Strategic Policy for the region as well as specific programs for local coverage and for the Lebur Project (1990-1998): 134,000 US $.
  2. Museum of the Industry. Re-use of 6,000 m2 with building for the use of a Museum of the Industry and services. (1992 and so on): 1,200,000 US $.
  3. Natural Park. rehabilitation of the area of Brinkola-Telleriarte-Udana 10 km2. (1994 and so on): 1,534,000 US $.
  4. Rehabilitation of the city centre (1992 and so on): 1,335,000 US $.
  5. Environmental actions. Concrete actions in relation to the waste management, recycling, etc. (1993 and so on).
  6. Issue and elaboration of didactical and informative materials, in accordance with action 3 (1995 and so on): 100,000 US $
  7. Investigation. composition of a group of investigators to search up the history of iron (1996 and so on): 67,000 US $
  8. Formation supporting the setting up the Foundation for the professional formation at a country extent. Workshop school for unemployed and non specialised young people, included in the
    action 3. Starting up the School of Artisan Forging with 15 participants. Forming a Design Team composed of 4 people wiyh dedication to the Lenbur Project and other 7 people dedicated to the environment (1994 and so on): 1,880,000 US $
  9. LENBUR Foundation. Start up a foundation to manage the project as a whole unit (1997 and so on): 200,000 US $

3. Process
The searching Team has terminated a first stage with the elaboration of a Strategic Policy for the Region and the specific programs of local coverage.
As a relevant characteristics can be pointed out the decision in favour of controlling the territorial arrangement policies via subsidiary rules, that should coincide with the previously mentioned policies.
Once defined the general scope the Lenbur Project is drawn up and the first steps begin within an integral project focused on the economical diversification.
Concretely the tourist sector has became an objective of the European Community as founds have been granted through the Initiative RESIDER II, a programm for restoring siderurgycal areas, to recover the past in relation with the history of iron. The problems and diffculties arisen along the process are to be put in the need for a necessary change in the mentality of the population in order to feel confident in the success of the projects, then people shown rather reluctant although the received support, as to imply themselves either financially or personally. Actions have been performed more slowly as desired but it has been demonstrated that great ideas require time. Urgency does nor always mean need, our North has always been the need. On the other hand the amount of different agents increases the difficulty in co-ordination and taking decisions.

4. Results
The depopulation process observed in the number of both inhabitants, young and adult, has come stop, as a signal that the given changes have augmented when a combined movement of different agents has been capable of overcome the trend to depressive situation.
Although difficult to evaluate, we would say that the self-valuation effect has been one of the best results. Finally we all have confidence in our possibilities and in the possibilities of the land where we live as well. The scope of the project is to the amount extended, that the implication of public agents as well as private agents are necessary to guarantee the success. The cost of the investment amounts 5 million of $. This could have not been possible without the active participation of all participants.
Real diversification of the resources as the economic aspects has been effectively boosted. An initiative binding and integrating project under a defined direction, knon for all agents, each one
peforming the established actions.


  1. Massive participation of the population in the project search and design.
  2. Issuing a policy for local development on tourist basis, recuperating the cultural, industrial and historic heritage integrated in the environment.
  3. Acceotance of the local authorities of the quality criteria to be applied to the territorial arrangement.
  4. Acceptance of a co-responsibility in the strategic challenge by all the stages of the population (public and private).
  5. Start up the LENBUR Foundation wich manages the project.
Lessons Learned

  1. In the field of exchange the experiences given through the several projects performed, we can signify the foundation as the optimal legal form to act as a stimulator, entertainer and manager.
  2. Need of stepped implication and participation of the different social agents according to the respective sensibilities.
  3. In the actions contemplated in the project are integrated the principles of sustainability, that is to say, that for the consecution of a local objetive the aspects of environment, economic and social development are taken into account.

The whole process for designing and carrying out the Lenbur Project is based on the numerous participation of both public and private agents. The guidelines coming from the guidelines of the
Local Agenda 21, suppose a methodological guide for the local authorities, in the planning and performance of the autonumous programs, and is taking in account when designing and performing
initiatives. The objective is to reinforce the local democracy and the co-operation between local authorities.
The working procedure has helped to the problems that must be first treated at local instances, that is to say at the closest instance to the problem.
The adoption of the foundation as a legal form to engage both private and public organisations as well as their participation at the different stages of the project can be an example to be
followed in other countries.

5. The experience in numbers
Financial Profile

1994-1998 Total Operating Budget: 750 millones pts (US$ 5 million. Calculated 1 $= 150 pts)


IBK (1994) Una propuesta de revitalización de la economía (Number I, II, III and IV)

Lembur Foundation (1994) Legazpi naturaleza y artesanía del hierro

Lembur Foundation (1995) El camino del hierro (Number: 2)

Este documento se ha editado a partir de una versión inglesa.
Revisado por Ricardo García.

1998 Spanish Best Practices selected by the International Jury >
Ciudades para un Futuro más Sostenible
Búsqueda | Buenas Prácticas | Documentos | Boletín CF+S | Novedades | Convocatorias | Sobre la Biblioteca | Buzón/Mailbox
Escuela Técnica Superior de Arquitectura de Madrid Universidad Politécnica de Madrid
Grupo de Investigación en Arquitectura, Urbanismo y Sostenibilidad
Departamento de Estructuras y Física de la EdificaciónDepartamento de Urbanística y Ordenación del Territorio