2016 World Monuments Watch
The “Fundición Averly” is a nineteenth-century foundry in Zaragoza—and one of the best examples of the golden age of industry in the Aragón region of Spain. It is the subject of an ongoing legal battle for its protection as a significant site of industrial heritage. When the Averly Foundry was built in 1880, it was located in an industrial area on the outskirts of Zaragoza, near the city’s train station. Since then, thanks to the growth of Zaragoza—whose population grew from 100,000 inhabitants in 1900 to 700,000 in 2011—the complex has come to occupy a highly prized location. The whole complex, roughly less than 2.5 acres (one hectare) in area, combines a residential zone, for the owner’s house and a picturesque garden, and an industrial sector, creating a mix of functional and recreational spaces. The buildings have maintained their late-nineteenth century architectural features, as well as most of the original furniture and machinery.
Most of Zaragoza’s urban furniture, and much in other Spanish cities, was created at Averly. But after operating for more than 130 years at the same location the foundry closed in 2013. Although catalogued by the Spanish Ministry of Education, Culture, and Sport as an important industrial heritage site, only a third of the complex is protected as a municipal landmark, leaving most of the buildings at risk of demolition. Currently, advocates in Zaragoza seek to raise awareness in order to protect the site from the looming threat of demolition and redevelopment into luxury apartment buildings. The 2016 World Monuments Watch aims to help these advocates in raising awareness of one of Europe’s best preserved foundries.
On June 18, 2016, advocates for the preservation of Averly celebrated Watch Day to raise awareness about the international significance of the foundry. Activities included a conference with national experts on industrial heritage, a presentation about significant sculptures and pieces of public furniture throughout Spain that were originally created at the foundry, and a virtual tour of the site. Local advocates organized several other activities during the same week, including art and music performances, activities for children, and a public demonstration, which was attended by hundreds of people.
Since the Watch
Despite the success of the Watch Day activities and considerable support from local residents, in late June 2016 a plenary session of the city council voted in favor of allowing demolition of the unprotected buildings at Averly, which make up over two thirds of the site. The city council tried to negotiate a land swap agreement between the property owners and developers but this effort was not successful. Demolition of the unprotected buildings started in July of 2016.