More than just a Museum

4 01 2011


By Harvé Dhillon

Guggenheim Museum

Guggenheim Museum

Just less than a century ago Bilbao was a small mining port, but the last two decades has seen various changes in Bilbao’s physical context revitalised by urban renewal schemes. The significant project of Frank Gehry’s Guggenheim Museum in 1997 has been a transitional era of when Bilbao had been established as the regeneration phase for the capital of the Basque region.

Today in addition to Bilbao’s industrial and manufacturing sectors the city has seen a high influx of tourists who are simply not visiting the Museum, but also exploring the various public spaces, monuments and public realm, which all contribute to the mix of historical and contemporary architectural assets, such as the Puppy by Jeff Koons in front of the museum.

The Puppy by Jeff Koons

The Puppy by Jeff Koons

Harmoniously, the complex form and randomness of the metal curves create a flawless juxtaposition against the La Salve Bridge along the Nervión river contemplate the composition of Bilbao’s history in a complete postcard image. The Guggenheim has definitely been a fundamental economic advantage to the city, but moreover can be labelled as Frank Gehry’s “signature’ building due to its sheer creative and daring style.

La Salve Bridge

La Salve Bridge




3 responses

5 01 2011

This is also my most favorite building, Haveen. Guggenheim Bilbao is not only one of the most groundbreaking architecture but also a beautiful flower of Basque on the bank of Nervion River. When I first looked at it, I was thinking about Fernand Leger (a French artist in the early twentieth century) and his famous “mechanical period” paintings.
Together with many new developments such as New Subway (1995) designed by Sir Nornam Foster, International Terminal (designed by Saltiago Calatrava) and Pedestrian Bridge Uribitate, the museums becomes an icon of city because of its ceaselessly moving organic volumes which reflect the beauty of sky and city’s classical district (Ensanche) on the metallic titanium skin. Furthermore, series of attractive walkways and squares around the building draw a huge amount of visitors on foot from both Ensanche and estuary bank, and help to bring life to the neighborhood of Amandoibarra.
No doubt, it is not only “the greatest building of our time” (Philip Johnson) but also the unique example of new urban inspiration.

5 01 2011

its interesting the way the structure has been interpreted in so many different ways, people call it like a flower, a fish and so on… but my interpretation of it is that it is a wonderful example ‘architecture of space’. the built form is a splended examples of spaces crafted out by a scuptor.
I agree to the fact that this has put bilbao on the map of the world, but its is quite interesting to see how the people reacted to the same when the building was being constructed.
in an interview by Frank Ghery said: “Immediately there was a vigil in the street. Steelworkers, dockworkers, other union people and many others all against me created a phalanx with candles…There was a threat in the newspaper, ‘Kill the American architect.’…They didn’t want it built. They hated it. They were appalled. They didn’t understand it. They didn’t want the change it represented.” and after it was built ” they run over and want their pictures taken with me. ‘Señor Gehry, Señor Gehry…!’ I should live there”

its so ironic that for the layman how architecture is interpreted in so many different ways, but in the end every architect wants to make his work put the context on the world map.

6 01 2011

Surely, it would be full of interesting architecture and arts though I haven’t been there. However, I would like to add some other aspects for judging the success of urban design and internationally renowned architectural projects (since I was reading on the case study of Bilbao today).

Maria V. Gomez (1998) looked at the change of employment rate and population in Bilbao from 1981 to 1996 (before the completion of Guggenheim) in order to evaluate the urban regeneration programme in terms of regional economic impact. She found the population still declining and unemployment rate relatively higher than the average of the Basque country.

Even though it was too early to judge the positive gains and economic development is not the only objective of urban regeneration, her remarks show that there is some exaggeration in praising the success of Bilbao regardless the aesthetic results of the regeneration programme.

For her article,

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