As Bilbao makes its way towards its own "green transition" throughout the city, the results of a recent design competition called for proposals to revive and transform the Begoña cemetery turning it into a "generous" urban garden for the community. The Municipality of Bilbao selected LOLA Landscape Architects and IWA Studio to take on this task.
According to LOLA, the competition was "launched after the exhumation of 4,700 people's remains, including the largest mass grave found in the Basque country with victims of the Civil War." The new cemetery is set to remain a landmark to the city's history and people whilst honoring those lost.
In order to keep the cemetery's heritage and history intact, the design team sets to utilize existing heritage objects found on site as well as relocate or rehabilitate all the tombstones and pantheons. "Most elements are adjusted so visitors can experience the tension between opposing dynamics: more silence and openness versus intensity and density," shares LOLA.
A central garden and botanical gallery will be added within the site, aiming to blend heritage items like the pantheons while creating an "ecological meadow" for guests and families to walk through and experience. "The Begoña Garden curates many individual stories while supporting urban life, a community that evolves over generations, learning from past mistakes and achievements while contributing to a better future."
The design team explains the existing cemetery site as well as the added central garden and botanical gallery will by a sculptural trellis. The main entrance will be "conceived as a memorial for the victims found in the mass graves, and the paving's configuration echoes fragments of the victims' DNA patterns." The botanical gallery will be made from gravel and reused, unblemished pieces and fragments found in the cemetery. The aim is to have "100% of the objects that belong to the original cemetery be reused and integrated into the new park," shared LOLA.
The 1.48 acre (0.6ha) site is set to have a budget of about $3.2M USD (€3.000.000) and is aimes for an expected completion date of 2025.
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