The winning proposal for the expansion and remodeling of the Bilbao Fine Arts Museum in Spain has been revealed. The entry by Foster + Partners and LM Uriarte Arkitektura SLP was chosen from a shortlist of six.
With the pseudonym ‘Agravitas,’ the project was unanimously declared by the jury as the one that “carefully respects the existing [building], 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 proposal seeks to reorient the museum toward the city by making the existing façade of the buildings more permeable. The goal is to make the 1945 structure the primary protagonist by restoring its original entrance and its logical internal sequence of spaces. Foster + Partners will add a new wing at the rear, equipping the museum with 2000 m2 (21,528 sf) of new galleries on a single open, flexible floor.
“We are delighted to have this opportunity to create a major new extension and remodel the Bilbao Fine Arts Museum,” said Norman Foster, founder of Foster + Partners. “Our design will restore the existing mid-20th 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.”
The new addition is characterized by a modeled façade with viewing and minimal supports placed away from the footprint of the existing buildings.
The jury’s statement added, “Technological in its image, humanistic in its approach and ecological in its sustainability, the proposal combines architectural quality, urban sensitivity, and social responsibility to raise a luminous landmark in the historic heart of Bilbao.”