The British architect Norman Foster and the local office of Luis María Uriarte are the winners of the competition to renovate and enlarge the Museum of Fine Arts of Bilbao, lately one of the most coveted projects in the context of cultural buildings in Spain, as per a unanimous decision of the jury chaired by the institution’s director, Miguel Zugaza, and including the architects Luis Fernández-Galiano and Patricia Urquiola. The others teams shortlisted were Nieto Sobejano, Rafael Moneo, BIG/AZAB/Preskene, Snøhetta/Foraster Arquitectos, and SANAA Jumusho/Iñaki Aurrekoetxea & Bazkideak.
The winning design seeks to bring back the original edifice, erected in 1945, by returning the main entrance to where it first was. But respect for the preexisting is no hindrance to the project’s powerful contemporary note. This comes to the fore in the arrangement and appearance of the new gallery, whose diaphanous bay ensures a high degree of functional flexibility and whose spectacular cantilever forms a portico while covering the museum’s new vertebral axis, the marker of which is an interior plaza lit from overhead. The budget for this work is in the area slightly over 18 million euros.