- The deputy councillor Miguel de los Toyos and the councillor Jon Bilbao accompany the officials of the Cuban organisation on their visit to the Otxarkoaga neighbourhood and its Opengela office.
The Deputy Minister for Territorial Planning and Urban Agenda of the Basque Government, Miguel de los Toyos, and the Councillor for Housing of the Bilbao City Council and President of the Bilbao Municipal Housing Association, Jon Bilbao, accompanied the heads of the Office of the Historian of Havana this morning on their visit to Otxarkoaga and its neighbourhood office (Otxar Opengela): Perla Rosales, Deputy Director General; Nelys García, director of International Cooperation; Anabell Cedeño, technical specialist of the International Cooperation Directorate; Malena Roche, director of Habana Espacios Creativos; and Ariam L. Mayor, senior specialist at Habana Espacios Creativos. The visit was also attended by the Director of Territorial Planning and Urban Agenda of the Basque Government, Ignacio de la Puerta, and the Director General of Municipal Housing of Bilbao, Eider Bilbao.
The Office of the Historian of the City of Havana, founded in 1938 by Emilio Roig for the protection of the cultural heritage of Old Havana, has carried out the rehabilitation of many buildings in the historic centre of the city. It had its heyday in the 1980s with historian Eusebio Leal at the helm, the first project for the restoration of the entire area and the declaration by UNESCO of the Historic Centre of Havana and its system of fortifications as a World Heritage Site in 1982. He is currently in the process of extending this type of project to other areas, not only in the Cuban capital, but in the whole of the Caribbean country.
Today’s meeting, requested by this Cuban body, was therefore a meeting and exchange of ideas between the latter and those responsible for the Opengela urban regeneration programme, coordinated by the Department of Territorial Planning, Housing and Transport of the Basque Government and involving 9 public and private organisations, including Bilbao Municipal Housing.
The Opengela project, which is funded by the European Commission’s Horizon 2020 programme, consists of setting up neighbourhood offices that accompany the neighbourhood throughout the process of refurbishing their buildings, offering support to homeowners’ associations in contracting works, managing public aid, accessing financing, improving energy efficiency and accessibility.
This programme is linked to the integral urban regeneration projects in vulnerable neighbourhoods, through which the aim is not only to improve accessibility and energy efficiency with the rehabilitation of residential buildings and the redevelopment of the entire environment, but also to address their social situation (low income, high unemployment and low level of education), through these technical offices and neighbourhood proximity.
The place chosen for the meeting was the Otxarkoaga neighbourhood, whose urban regeneration and building rehabilitation project, known as Orain Otxar, for 240 homes spread over 16 doorways and three streets in the neighbourhood (Irumineta, Txotena and Larrakoetxe) is well underway and its neighbourhood office Otxar Opengela is hosting a multitude of actions to accompany and support residents and other initiatives such as the remodelling of the old shopping centre and the launch of entrepreneurial initiatives in premises that are now empty.
Opengela, whose European project will end in January 2023, has generated a management model for neighbourhood offices that is already beginning to be deployed in other municipalities, beyond the two pilots in Otxarkoaga and Eibar. Specifically, in Lasarte and Durango, as well as in Pasaia, Abanto-Zierbena, Santurtzi and Valle de Trápaga.