Foster+Partners have won the international competition to create the design for the new Fine Arts Museum in Bilbao, Spain. The proposal was chosen from a shortlist of six and offers to reorient the museum towards the city by restoring the facade of the existing building, making it more permeable and enhancing the institution’s unique identity.
A unique structure is designed to rest respectfully across the 1945 and 1970 buildings, equipping the museum with 2,000 sqm of new galleries on a single open, flexible floor, giving an ideal gallery space for any museum curator. The winning entry turns plaza Arriaga into the new heart along the museum’s spine, with light streaming in from the roof light piercing through the new gallery spaces above. The ground floor is on a single accessible plane allowing visitors to orient themselves easily, while the new addition is characterized by a modeled facade with viewing terraces to enhance its slenderness, and minimal supports placed away from the footprint of the existing buildings.
The jury’s statement says, that the winning project “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.” They also 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.”