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The Loss of Averly

Averly Foundry was included on the 2016 Watch to call attention to real estate development pressures threatening the site. Only one-third of the complex was protected through landmark designation.

Averly foundry has ceased to exist. Or at least it does not exist anymore as it used to. During the last weeks of July 2016, most of Averly Foundy—a site that was unanimously considered the best preserved and most important historic foundry in southern Europe—was demolished.

Since it was first established in the 1880s next to the railroad tracks in what was then the outskirts of Zaragoza, Spain, Averly Foundry had remained mostly unaltered. Until closing in 2013, the foundry continued its metal production and was the place where most of Zaragoza’s street art and furniture was made. Without Averly and its history of production, it is not possible to understand Zaragoza’s cityscape, or the industrialization of the Ebro Valley by extension.

The interior spaces of Averly were a magical world full of possibilities and remarkable attributes; the foundry held decades of industrial heritage in the form of artistic and architectural elements as well as machinery, models, and molds. The complex was the only extant example of the villa-factoría industrial typology (those sites that included the owner’s residence with the industrial complex) in Spain. In fact, both the academic and scientific community agreed that Averly met the criteria to have been declared a World Heritage site by UNESCO.

The destruction of Averly, however, occurred thanks to the complicity of a great number of institutions. All the legal mechanisms and resources that should have helped to preserve Averly have failed, leading to the loss of a site that was proposed for landmarking in the Spanish national plan for industrial heritage (Plan Nacional de Patrimonio Industrial), approved in 2011.

Nevertheless, we do believe that the fight to preserve Averly has not been in vain. We, the citizens of Zaragoza, have shown our love for heritage and culture, and we have received the support of many institutions, such as the Art History Department at the University of Zaragoza, the Royal Academy of Engineering of Spain, and World Monuments Fund. We would like to express our sincere gratitude to all of them.

Although I wrote earlier that Averly has ceased to exist in the way it used to, that is not completely true. Firstly, because during these past three years of fighting, we have thoroughly documented the foundry through a project that we expect to make public very soon. Secondly, because those of us who are aware of the exceptional value that Averly had are not going to give up. We are going to keep fighting for what is left of Averly Foundry, which now requires justice and reparation.

Image top: Despite inclusion on the Watch and the support of the International Committee for the Conservation of Industrial Heritage and the Royal Academy of Engineering of Spain, Averly was slated for demolition and redevelopment in June of 2016.

The original version of this blog, written in Spanish, has been edited for English.  Leer en español