Blast furnace nº2 in the Port of Sagunto

Grand Prix, Medal/Award in the category Conservation in the year 2012.

Dating of the building: 1922.

Applicant: Carmen Gradolí, Luis Francisco Herrero and Arturo Sanz.

Reason for the award :

The Jury wanted to recognize the sustained effort to save this exceptional monument, Blast Furnace No. 2 of Puerto de Sagunto, and passing on its understanding to future generations.

The recovery of Blast Furnace number 2, witness to the industrial development of coal and steel in the 1920s, makes the port of Sagunto one of the icons of its historical and cultural landscape.

The survival of the blast furnaces of the 20th-century steel industry is one of the heritage challenges of the 21st century. Its preservation is vital for the understanding of shared European history, given that coal and steel were at the origin of our European Union. The uniqueness of the blast furnace as an industrial legacy comes both from its singularity as an iconic element of the steel industry, reminiscent of an industrial stage, and its didactic potential. These characteristics have determined the possibilities of the intervention: the blast furnace, an immense machine, an artifact not easily transformed to other uses, was built and modified with a very different purpose from that that encourages us to preserve it today.

Blast Furnace No. 2 is the most interesting preserved element of an industry that, as of 1917, determined the creation of an entire town in which the urban and social fabric depended exclusively on the factory of Altos Hornos del Mediterráneo. Its closure in 1984 and the demolition of practically all of its elements was a traumatic break with the past, ending in a human and urban crisis in which the population lost its most relevant point of reference.  With its decrepit if not dilapidated appearance it was impossible to convey its significant meaning.   For this reason the work carried out on Blast Furnace No. 2 was responsible for restoring a cultural element to a past of which it was almost the sole link. Action was carried out on several fronts. The first was the structural consolidation of the furnace, a 64m high metal tower that, for more than thirteen years, had been abandoned without maintenance in an aggressive marine environment. The second was the recovery of its form, returning the oven to the appearance it had after one of its periodic reconstructions to put it back in operation. The third was its functional qualification with a didactic nature, making it accessible from its immediate surroundings to its interior, and creating a route that allows access to its highest levels.

To enhance this didactic character, a reception pavilion has been built, equipped with audiovisual aids, showing the visitor through virtual restitution the missing elements. Thus, the position of a blast furnace in the iron and steel process can be interpreted and its operation understood as a cast iron-producing machine.

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