South of the railway: Historical-archaeological approach to the Adurtza and San Cristóbal neighbourhoods (Vitòria-Gasteiz, Alava)
Author: Francisco Gómez-Díez.
To the southeast of Vitòria-Gasteiz (Alava), separated from the city by the railway and a military barracks, two workers’ neighbourhoods were developed following the arrival of the railway in 1862. Their development was shaped by a railway hub, the Vitoria-Logroño highway and a number of military barracks. From that point onwards, up until the years of Franco’s development projects, this area of the city became a small-scale “experimentation” district for worker housing. Here we find the Primo de Rivera low-cost housing, accommodation following Italian fascist architectural designs, the social housing of the Vitoria Municipal Savings Bank from the 1940s and 50s and worker towns resulting from church initiatives at the peak of liberation theology and the arrival of a flood of migrants during the city’s industrialisation in the 1950s, 60s and 70s. This gave rise to the neighbourhoods of San Cristóbal and Adurtza.
Nonetheless, following the industrial conversion process in the 1980s and 1990s, the factories shut down, relocated or shifted offshore, leaving the neighbourhood without its industrial context, with workplaces being demolished and the land reclassified for residential use. Similarly, worker towns built during the years of the development projects ran the risk of disappearing, to be replaced with new, more liveable and profitable property developments, as a mechanism of modernisation, but above all gentrification.
On the basis of the above premises, this article aims to set out the initial results of the historical-archaeological study conducted in Adurtza and San Cristóbal, employing the methodology provided by Arqueologia del Paisatge. The aim is thus to achieve a better understanding so as to showcase the industrial and worker heritage of the region, at risk of neglect and disappearance over recent decades.
The presentation made at the International Congress on Worker Settlements and Factory Towns held in October 2018 may be found here