The British architect Norman Foster has with the Basque Luis María Uriarte won the competition to revamp Bilbao’s Museum of Fine Arts, which wanted 2,250 square meters of its current floorage renovated and at least 5,140 square meters added, and in a way that would respect the two existing buildings.
The other finalists were: Nieto Sobejano Arquitectos; Rafael Moneo; BIG, AZAB, and Proskene; Snøhetta and Foraster Arquitectos; and SANAA Jimusho and Iñaki Aurrekoetxea & Bazkideak.
Chaired by the museum’s director, Miguel Zugaza, the jury -- including Matxalen Acasuso, Zuriñe Antoñana, Luis Fernández-Galiano, Miren Lorea Bilbao, Gorka Martínez, José Ángel María Muñoz, Mikel Ocio, and Patricia Urquiola – unanimously singled out the winning design from the pool of entries submitted anonymously and identified by mottos.
Titled ‘Agravitas,’ Foster and Uriarte’s proposal gives the 1945 building the protagonism it used to have, doing so by moving the main entrance to where it originally was. Respectfully but creating a new identity for the institution, it crowns the existing edifices with a diaphanous and flexible exhibition gallery containing 2,000 square meters in a single level. Under this striated volume held up by few supports is the museum’s new heart, Plaza Arriaga, bathed in daylight coming in through the oculus that crosses the new gallery. A dry construction system will facilitate execution of the project, budgeted at 18,658,200 maximum, VAT included.