The walls of Vitoria-Gasteiz

Vitoria-Gasteiz, Álava, País Vasco.
Special mention / Diploma in the category Conservation in the year 2010.

Dating of the building: 11th century.

Applicant: Gonzalo Arroita Berenguer. Agency for the Integral Revitalization of the Historic City of Vitoria-Gasteiz, S.A. (ARICH S.A), Plan E of the Government of Spain.

Reason for the award :

For the exemplary approach to the recovery of the "forgotten walls" in the heart of the historic centre of Vitoria-Gasteiz, in the initial phase of a large-scale urban project, returning to the city not only all the walls that surrounded its initial historic centre but the spaces surrounding those walls, which are open to public enjoyment and complete the idea of green spaces that characterizes this city.

The people of Vitoria have lived for centuries next to more than three hundred metres of forgotten walls that, after ten years of restoration, have been recovered for the enjoyment of the citizens.

People talked about the forgotten walls of Vitoria-Gasteiz because, for centuries, the inhabitants of Vitoria have not been aware of the existence of this valuable heritage. The autonomous capital preserved, without knowing it, more than a third of a kilometre of canvases for the pre-founding 11th-century wall, up to ten metres high, hidden in back lots and degraded courtyards. Until 2006, citizens only knew about forty linear metres, the result of a historic restoration of the 1950s.

The objective of the project is to redefine more than 300 linear metres of the wall recovering 7,200 square metres of empty spaces in the heart of the historic centre. In this way, an IMS or Green Interior System is created, which links gardens and squares of careful landscaping design with spaces for socio-cultural relations and dynamics. The project is articulated with a language and a coherent and didactic expographic discourse, which allows the citizen to recover the historical memory of the forgotten walls, and also the social integration of the neighbourhood through collective identification with those assets of the common legacy. The works have been carried out with scrupulous respect for the existing built heritage, which has been consolidated, and with particular rigor in choosing compatible technical solutions and materials. Thus, for example, after a decade of research, the full volume of the fortification has been acknowledged. In its reintegration, light structures and textures have been used that, over time, have acquired colour and appearance very similar to the original masonry, even when made in red cedar wood.

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