Unanimously selected from an international shortlist of six teams, Foster + Partners and LM Uriarte Arkitektura S.L.P, who competed under the pseudonym “Agravitas”, recently won the competition for the remodeling and expansion of the historic Bilbao Fine Arts Museum. The commission marks the British practice's second project in Bilbao, following the Bilbao Metro that was completed in 1995.
The proposal “carefully respects the existing, recovering the historical values of the museum and projecting it towards the future with a new grand gallery that rises over the constructions of 1945, 1970 and 2001 to write a new chapter in the life of the institution,” the jury said.
The proposal will reorient the museum toward the city by restoring the existing facade and making it more permeable, Foster + Partners says. “The guiding principle behind the project is to make the 1945 building the primary protagonist by restoring its original entrance and its logical internal sequence of spaces. A unique structure rests respectfully across the 1945 and 1970 buildings at the rear, equipping the museum with 2,000 square-meters of new galleries on a single open, flexible floor – an ideal gallery space for any museum curator.”
Plaza Arriaga will become the central space along the museum's spine and feature skylights that let natural light filter into new gallery spaces above. With the ground floor on a single accessible plane, the redesign will feature a modeled façade with viewing terraces to enhance its slenderness, with minimal supports placed away from the footprint of the existing buildings, the firm describes.
“Our design will restore the existing mid-twentieth century building and setting to its original glory, create a new publicly accessible atrium space and add major new galleries for contemporary art in a floating pavilion. We, with Luis María Uriarte, look forward to working with the director, Miguel Zugaza and his team to create a museum fit for this forward-looking city,” Norman Foster said in a statement.
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