THE OTHER BILBAO
In a quick survey of existing centres for the arts, housing a Museum is usually approached in
two ways – It can either be through a new iconic building, or through the reuse/rehabilitation of
While monoliths are thick solid, imposing and authoritative – it’s viability in today’s world
is now often questioned. How flexible is it to change? How can it be transformative in the
community? Is it sustainable?
The proposed concept of a ‘non-monolith’ is a reaction to the irony of art being housed in a big
box. By deconstructing the box, or simply repacking art in ‘pieces’ of a whole, this project aims
to present the concept of the modern Museum as more than a place of display, but of play: A
heart of civic life where people meet, gather and collaborate, or a place in the city where one can
go to, in order to be inspired and re-energised.
They call it the Guggenheim effect. Known to have benefitted the city of Bilbao in Spain, the
idea has been repeatedly emulated by different cities with the same aspirations. While this may
be a good reference point in envisioning a Museum, it is actually the Alhondiga, the ‘other’
Bilbao building that inspired this project. While the Guggenheim may be the iconic of the two,
and indeed its presence changed the landscape of the once-industrial town of El Botxo into a
world class tourist destination, it is the Alhondiga that inspired the concept of the project in
mind. The idea of a “Culture and Leisure Centre”, a multipurpose venue housing a Museum or
the other way around is viable in many ways because both serve the public in providing a place
of interest and a location for various activities.
FAÇADE + SUSTAINABILITY
The Museum’s visitors will see a building that looks smaller than it is.
This impression, created by the active juxtaposition of the diverse components of the building,
will offer an articulate view of the building. The components will be clad in a lacework of
double-skin glass facade, and a greenwall – to reduce the overall temperature of the building.
The remaining surface of the Museum shall be clad with Gamplanken, a sustainable material
recently developed in the Netherlands. The Gamplanken cladding system is made entirely from
waste plastic, and is unique not only in its appearance but also in terms of sustainability as a
To control the sunlight penetrating into the building, a self-regulating smart façade system
is applied to the building envelope. The Homeostatic Façade System operates on natural
principles to keep interior conditions decent. It automatically adjusts to suit the changing exterior
Behind the building’s surface, the Museum will be an imaginative, articulate and graceful
structure that will appear diverse with every revolution of daylight.
After sunset, the Museum will be transformed into an enchanted atmosphere. The light from
the galleries will provide a soft background glow that will dissolve the façade’s lacework and
highlight the activity taking place in the Museum. Through this transformation, visitors will
notice the different pieces of the lobby and the transition space between the energy of the
landscaped courtyard and that of the Museum spaces.
Losing the perception that art is a premium, a hobby of the wealthy. It is a public good, not
indicative by national income but by supply – we are a country of sheer artistic talent. Why not
create a place that can showcase these to every Filipino and the rest of the world?
How do you make people notice? Tantamount to the importance of art in everyday life. Why not
make it a part of everyday life, a public good. This embeds the Museum in the community that it
not only belongs to the creators of art but to anyone around it.
The New Manila Financial District – let’s hope and pray this happens (in reality)