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From tomorrow, European experts will discuss the role of industrial heritage as an engine for economic and social regeneration in the Basque Country

2023 November 7
  • The Left Bank in Bilbao will host the General Assembly and Conference of the European Route of Industrial Heritage (ERIH) from tomorrow


The “European Route of Industrial Heritage ERIH” has, for the first time, chosen the Basque Country as the venue for its General Assembly. On November 8 and 9, locations on the Left Bank will host the members of the Route. The Assembly will be followed by a Conference with leading experts in industrial heritage under the slogan “Industrial heritage as an engine for sustainable social and economic regeneration of the community. The New European Bauhaus: Beautiful - Sustainable - United”. This event will discuss relevant topics related to industrial tourism and heritage preservation, further strengthening the Basque Country's role in the promotion and conservation of European industrial heritage.

The meetings and lectures will underline the importance of Industrial Tourism in shaping the image of the Basque Country, highlighting its significance beyond the diversification of the tourist offer. The industrial legacy of the territory offers a deep reflection on the identity and history of the Basque Country, which contributes to the understanding of our current society.

In this context, the Basque Government’s Department of Tourism promotes the Industrial Tourism Plan in the Basque Country, with the support and collaboration of ERIH. This commitment has led the Basque Country to have three of its resources declared Anchor Points, recognised points of special interest, and it is the territory with the largest number of them in Spain.

The "New European Bauhaus" (NEB), to which the Conference's slogan alludes, is an initiative of the European Commission and a framework that aims to unite the world of science and technology, the world of art and culture, and community participation. Industrial heritage provides an ideal opportunity for communities to make it happen. At the 2023 ERIH Annual Conference, speakers will present projects that demonstrate these connections.

Industrial heritage represents a valuable resource for the social and economic regeneration of the community. Throughout Europe, there are numerous historic industrial sites and buildings that have great potential to be revitalised and become drivers of positive change. These sites, once at the heart of industrial activity, can now become cultural centres, innovation spaces and sustainable tourism destinations.

The regeneration of industrial heritage offers significant benefits. Firstly, it preserves cultural identity by remembering industrial history and maintaining cultural roots. It also boosts economic growth by generating employment and promoting tourism and local commerce. In turn, it contributes to sustainability by incorporating environmentally friendly technologies and sustainable practices. It also promotes community participation by involving the community in projects and decisions, strengthening cohesion and a sense of belonging.

The program of the meetings will begin with a guided tour of the Electrical Transformers Building (Transformadores Electricos Ilgner), headquarters of the BIC Ezkerraldea in Barakaldo. Afterwards, the ERIH General Assembly will be held, followed by a visit to the Bizkaia Bridge.

Presentations at the Conference on Thursday 9 will address various aspects of industrial heritage and its role in sustainable development. Topics such as the New European Bauhaus laboratories, sustainable heritage management at Port Sunlight, the transition of industrial heritage in the town of Rybnik, Pfefferberg's commitment to its industrial monument, educational programs to reduce textile overproduction and models of industrial heritage revival will be discussed.

The programme will conclude with visits to the three resources in the Basque Country rated as Anchor Points, the highest rating awarded to a property of these characteristics. The experts and attendees will have the opportunity to learn first-hand from their managers about the Añana Salt Mines, famous for their historical and cultural importance in salt production. They will also visit the Basque Railway Museum in Azpeitia, which highlights the importance of the railway in the industrial history of the Basque Country and, finally, there will be a visit to the La Encartada Factory, which represents a historical milestone in the tradition of Basque textile production. There will also be a subsequent visit to the Pobal Ironworks.


The ERIH General Assembly will include a series of lectures addressing the importance of industrial heritage in sustainable and economic development. The following is a summary of the conferences and their respective speakers:

The conference will begin with opening remarks from Prof. Dr. Meinrad Maria Grewenig, President of ERIH, followed by a welcome message from the Basque Government Minister of Tourism, Javier Hurtado.

Industrial Heritage as an Engine for Sustainable Development. Maria Spada of the National Centre for Industrial Culture (Luxembourg) will present at the conference on the role of industrial heritage as a driver for sustainable and economic development. She will address how preservation and adaptation of industrial sites can drive sustainable social and economic development.

ZEKIWA: Laboratory of the New European Bauhaus. Katrin Kanus-Sieber from the New European Bauhaus Network Office in Saxony-Anhalt and Roman Mikhaylov from the Municipality of Zeitz (Germany) will present the ZEKIWA project as a laboratory of the New European Bauhaus. They will explore how sustainable innovation can shape everyday life and create an interplay between science, technology and culture.

Global Legacies: Roadmap for the sustainable management of the port's heritage. Heather Alcock, Port Sunlight Village Trust's UK representative, will share a roadmap for the sustainable management of Port Sunlight's heritage. It will highlight how the proper management of industrial heritage can contribute to sustainability and community development.

Industrial heritage in the Rybnik transition. Marek Golosz, from Ignacy Historic Mine in Poland, will discuss the role of industrial heritage in the transition of the city of Rybnik towards a sustainable, aesthetic and inclusive urban area.

Pfefferberg: Industrial monument that fulfils a commitment. Anna Theil, from the Pfefferberg Foundation in Germany, will discuss how an industrial monument like Pfefferberg engages with the community and sustainable development.

My Pants! An educational programme to reduce textile overproduction. Ingrid Haugroning, from the Museum of the Textile Industry (MUHO) in Norway, will speak about the "My Pants!" educational programme that engages young people in reducing the overproduction of textiles and the impact of the fast fashion industry.

Not as a museum, please! Renaissance model. Stefania Carretti, from the Officine Reggiane Historical Archive in Italy, will present a model for the revival of industrial heritage that does not resemble a traditional museum, but seeks new forms of preservation and community participation.

These lectures will provide a comprehensive overview of the role of industrial heritage in sustainable and economic development, with varied examples and approaches presented by experts in the field.

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