Norman Foster presents the project for the remodel of the Bilbao Fine Arts Museum
This morning, in the Bilbao Fine Arts Museum, Norman Foster presented a preview of the draft project for its expansion. In his comments, Foster used one of the art gallery’s most iconic works—The Bridge at Burceña by Aurelio Arteta—as a metaphor for an understanding of the past being one of the fundamental bridges for building the future.
The event was attended by Unai Rementeria, the General Deputy for Bizkaia and Chairman of the Museum Board; Bingen Zupiria, the Regional Secretary for Culture and Linguistic Policy of the Basque Government; Juan Mari Aburto, Mayor of the City Council of Bilbao; as well as other representatives from the Board, from the jury of the bid for the expansion architecture and from the museum Corporate Programme, to name but a few.
The road map of this important architectural initiative was determined on 11 December 2018 in the Strategic Plan 2019–2022, approved by the Board with the aim of driving the organisational modernisation and the physical expansion of the institution. Within this new strategic vision, the action with the greatest impact is the expansion of some 8,000 m2 of the museum’s operating space, with a budget of €18,658,200 and a completion time of 45 months.
The first step towards achieving this goal was the call for bids for the architecture on 11 February, held thanks to funding by BBK, the honorary patron of the museum. On April 8, the jury selected six finalists out of the 57 teams admitted in the first stage. Finally, on July 23, the bid decision was announced in favour of the project titled ‘Agravitas’, presented by Foster+Partners + LM Uriarte Arkitektura, and both the winning project and the finalists were on display for the public between July 29 and October 6.
The core idea is to recover the prominence of the 1945 building by restoring its original entrance. A uniquely-sized space is projected on the existing installations that stands respectfully on the 1945 and 1970 buildings, providing the museum with new galleries on one single open-plan, multi-purpose floor. The initiative also transforms the Square containing the monument to Arriaga into the new heart of the museum’s hub.
[In its report, the jury summed up the strengths of the project as follows: ‘Technological in its image, humanistic in its approach and ecological in its sustainability, the proposal combines architectural quality, urban sensitivity and social responsibility to build a dazzling, subtle milestone in the historic heart of Bilbao’.
As for Unai Rementeria, he highlighted the most significant improvements in the functionality and visibility of the museum on condensing into one single volume the requirement plan, as well as the consideration it shows to visitors and the enormous environmental awareness of a project at the service of citizens.