foster + partners wins competition to expand and remodel the bilbao fine arts museum

foster + partners wins competition to expand and remodel the bilbao fine arts museum

foster + partners, together with LM uriarte arkitektura, have unanimously won the international competition to expand and remodel the bilbao fine arts museum. under pseudonym agravitas, the winning proposal is developed around the idea of making the existing building, originally built in 1945 and followed by further constructions in 1970 and 2001, the primary protagonist by restoring its original entrance. additionally, 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, offering an ideal gallery space for any museum curator.foster + partners wins competition to expand and remodel the bilbao fine arts museumall images courtesy of foster + partners



‘we are delighted to have this opportunity to create a major new extension and remodel the bilbao fine arts museum,’ says norman foster, founder and executive chairman, foster + partners. ‘our design will restore the existing mid-twentieth 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. we, with luis maría uriarte, look forward to working with the director, miguel zugaza and his team to create a museum fit for this forward-looking city.’ marking the practice’s second project in the city, following bilbao metro, which was completed in 1995, the bilbao fine arts museum proposal seeks to reorient the museum towards the city by restoring the façade of the existing building and making it more permeable, while enhancing the institution’s unique identity.

foster + partners wins competition to expand and remodel the bilbao fine arts museum




chosen from a shortlist of six, 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 façade with viewing terraces to enhance its slenderness, and minimal supports placed away from the footprint of the existing buildings.



agravitas was declared by the jury as the one that ‘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. 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.’

foster + partners wins competition to expand and remodel the bilbao fine arts museum foster + partners wins competition to expand and remodel the bilbao fine arts museumimage courtesy of the bilbao fine arts museum





project info:



name: agravitas – bilbao fine arts museum

architect: foster + partners, LM uriarte arkitektura S.L.P.

client: bilbao fine arts museum

location: bilbao, spain


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