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Renowned for its cultural heritage and architectural wonders, the city of Bilbao continues its remarkable journey to establish itself as a leading hub for creative industries. Central to this transformation is the island of Zorrotzaurre, an ambitious project designed to foster innovation, collaboration, and artistic expression. With a diverse range of creative businesses and organizations flocking to this reimagined area, Zorrotzaurre aims to keep building a thriving hub for creativity and economic growth.

DigiPen Institute of Technology Europe-Bilbao made a pioneering move by setting up its campus on the artificial island back in 2018. Now, as DigiPen marks a significant five-year milestone, it reflects on the remarkable transformation of the surrounding landscape. While the campus remains a constant hub of learning, the area it resides in has undergone impressive changes over the years.

A realistic model on a view that shows the overall design of the Zorrotzaurre island integrated into the area.
A top-down plan of the project. (Image credit:

Zorrotzaurre and its ongoing development of the creative industries provides significant economic implications for Bilbao and its surrounding region. As an attractive destination for investment and tourism, the island regularly sees an influx of creative businesses that creates job opportunities, draws in talented individuals, and generates substantial revenue. Zorrotzaurre’s vibrant ecosystem has attracted a diverse range of creative industries and several educational institutions.

The Zorrotzaurre project aims to continue building a new neighborhood that’s well-connected to the rest of the city, and this is made possible as more than half of the 838,781 square meters that make up the artificial island is owned by public entities such as the Basque Government, the Bilbao City Council, and the Port Authority of Bilbao. The prestigious Anglo-Iraqi architect Zaha Hadid designed the master plan for the project. Developed in 2004 and revised in 2007, the master plan incorporates the complete opening of the Deusto Canal, transforming the Zorrotzaurre peninsula into an island and ensuring the area’s protection against floods.

DigiPen Europe-Bilbao Square, a welcoming place and entrance to the campus.
The square outside the DigiPen Europe-Bilbao building. (Image credit:

In the present, the Zorrotzaurre project stands as a testament to Bilbao’s commitment to revitalizing declining industrial areas and transforming them into thriving creative and cultural spaces. Through comprehensive urban regeneration efforts, Zorrotzaurre is set to become a vibrant neighborhood, fostering economic growth, promoting collaboration, and offering a dynamic environment for both work and leisure. The plan focuses on sustainability, providing affordable housing, environmentally friendly business areas, numerous social and cultural facilities, and ample public spaces for citizens to enjoy.

Zorrotzaurre’s transformation into a flourishing hub for creative industries marks an exciting chapter in Bilbao’s cultural and economic evolution. The collaborative spirit, innovative infrastructure, and diverse community of creative professionals make the isle an inspiring place to work and explore. 

DigiPen Europe-Bilbao continues to uphold its commitment to academic excellence by contributing to the flourishing development of the broader region. The seamless interplay between DigiPen Europe-Bilbao and its ever-evolving surroundings sets the stage for an optimistic and promising future for all involved.