Bilbao / Spain / 2010

5 Love 2,085 Visits Published

Alhóndiga is a modernist building that used to be an oil, liqueur, and wine storage facility. It was built in 1909 by Ricardo Bastida. Ten years after its opening, in 1919, a fire led to its closing. It remained closed until the present.

In 1999, it was designated as an Asset of Cultural Interest. It has been rehabilitated and transformed into an open, innovative, and sustainable construction by French architect and designer Philippe Starck.

The Latin quotation “Mens sana in corpore sano” (“A healthy mind in a healthy body”) can be said to summarise its spirit, for body care and soul development come together at AlhóndigaBilbao.

AlhóndigaBilbao has been rehabilitated to become a new leisure centre and cultural hub in town. It relies on three themes –Physical Exercise, Media Library, and Extra Activities– and is divided into three separate large spaces. When it reopens on May 18, 2010, Bilbao will have got an architecturally and historically valuable building back.

The AlhóndigaBilbao project was budgeted at €75 million for
rehabilitation work and equipment. The project’s architectural rehabilitation and urban development work began in 2002 and finished this year.

One of Bilbao’s architectural icons is emerging again in the heart of town. It is Alhóndiga (1909), the old wine warehouse designed by Ricardo Bastida, which has morphed into AlhóndigaBilbao –a place swarming with activity for all and sundry that is expected to become a new leisure and cultural hub. AlhóndigaBilbao is bringing its curtain up with the hope of hosting activities in its
43,000-square-metre surface area that encourage the love of knowledge, awaken cultural sensitivity, lead to positive experiences in the different stages of life, and contribute to the consolidation of strong values. Culture, knowledge, and fun are coming together in an innovative, multidisciplinary space that will be brimming with life –a meeting point to share, learn, and above all, enjoy with family and friends.

AlhóndigaBilbao is a leisure, cultural, and wellness centre oriented towards personal growth. The Latin quotation derived from one of Juvenal’s Satires captures the spirit and concept of the centre. The idea is that AlhóndigaBilbao is a place where visitors can accomplish the goal of Antiquity of striking balance between the body and the mind.

Since Philippe Starck first took charge of the rehabilitation project, every task was aimed at the creation of a multidisciplinary space open to all citizens and oriented towards personal growth and the development of human relationships. This is the most interesting thing about AlhóndigaBilbao, for its purpose will make it an ever-changing place.

AlhóndigaBilbao is the most important strategic project undertaken by Bilbao authorities in the past few years. To carry it out, a single shareholder corporation that is 100% owned by the city was established to perform the tasks of building rehabilitation, management, and provision of leisure and cultural services. Although AlhóndigaBilbao will be a public use facility, it houses companies that share the project’s vision and social commitment values through space rental.

Formerly a wine storage facility, with a modernist character and designated Asset of Cultural Interest by the Basque Government in 1999, Alhóndiga is celebrating its 100th anniversary, after exterior renovation and interior transformation, including the development of new spaces by Philippe Starck.

Those who cross the AlhóndigaBilbao‘s threshold will be received by the "Gran Plaza Central", an area of 6,193 m2 surrounded by a colonnade with 43 pillars with the task of supporting the internal buildings in the shape of a cube. The 43 columns, designed by film and TV set designer Lorenzo Baraldi, drew inspiration from various architectural styles and materials, mostly marble, bronze, wood, brick, glazed terracotta tiles, cement, and Lecce stone. This reveals the designers' trust in "noble materials”, contrasting with those used by Bastida in the original building –steel, brick and concrete–, which have been kept where they could stand alongside new, contemporary building materials or structures. These three themed buildings (knowledge, well-being and leisure) make up a multi-purpose area of almost 40,000 square metres, each divided into three floors. The basements are accessed from this meeting point, to reach the leisure area, cinemas, exhibition hall and the theatre and an auditorium for 400 spectators. To round it off, the visitor can go up to the magnificent "Sun Terrace", where the Alhóndiga’s urban spa is located. This will be the admiration of visitors entering from downstairs, thanks to the transparent bottom of its swimming pools. An enormous projection screen hangs in the centre of the Alhóndiga universe, where young artists will be able to display their creations sharing space with an enormous virtual sun, a star that will illuminate the interior and provide the energy and heat required for the perfect genesis of the Starck project.

The three three-level themed buildings featuring multi-purpose spaces cover some 40,000 square metres. These three areas of Alhóndiga are dedicated to fitness and physical exercise, a media library, and extra activities.

Physical Exercise Building

With 2676 m2 surface area and 2 floors with a double height, AlhondigaBilbao offers an ideal space for relaxation, health and physical development. The corridor to the upper swimming pools and changing rooms leads off from here. The gym has the most modern equipment and is flanked by perimeter monitors with live broadcasts for the enjoyment of users, who will be able to exercise whilst watching their favourite TV programme. People who prefer relaxing exercises can get deep into disciplines, guided by experts, designed to connect body and mind such as tai chi chuan or yoga, among others. As many as 30 fitness programmes with sessions comprising more than 250 weekly hours will be available in AlhóndigaBilbao.

Media Library
With 3800 m2 surface area distributed in 3 floors, the Media Library shows a 'new' concept of libraries understood as the fabric of social space. A meeting point for cultural tendencies in which it is possible to enjoy audiovisual presentations, attend training workshops, listen to music or simply have fun, as well as making bibliographic consultations. The media library contains multidisciplinary collections specialising in literature, comics, exercise, health, leisure and entertainment, audiovisuals and science. All information in various media can be accessed for free and is sorted by simple, user-friendly criteria.

The media library will feature a room for the little ones. It will contain some 8,000 copies in different media, and facilities especially designed for kids. Parents will be encouraged to stay with their children and see how they discover the world of reading while getting information on child development, child psychology and parenting.

Complementary activities buildings

In 3 floors with 3.800 m2 surface area, are located complementary activities of AlhondigaBilbao. The first two floors of this building are for public use, The media library brings cultural collections in various media closer to all AlhóndigaBilbao users, whatever their ages in AlhóndigaBilbao visitors can get fit through intense workout routines or they can exercise to connect body, mind and soul whilst the third floor is solely for facilities.

The leisure area will be housed here, led by the Yandiola restaurant-buffet and the AlhóndigaBilbao shop, where an important selection of objects designed by Philippe Starck can be found.

The centre is located in the Herat of the Abando quarter, with the Plaza Arriquibar as a luxurious foyer to access a cultural space that does not require a reservation. The former roundabout leaves cars on one side, in order to focus on the pedestrian and rises to a height of almost 2 metres to lavish it with new urban fittings and trees with spectacular flowering. There is also pedestrian access from Alameda Rekalde and Iparraguirre street. Two of the three entrances to the building have been adapted for people with disabilities: lifts are available from Iparragirre and there is a ramp from the Plaza Arriquibar.

The construction details of AlhóndigaBilbao represent a bid for the most efficient sustainability, whilst respecting the uniqueness of a protected building, due to its architectural value, at all times. Some useful facts: 4,000 tonnes of steel have been used to build the metal structure that
houses the Gran Plaza Central, which is covered with 14,000 m2 of prestressed reinforced concrete. 200 m2 of thermal solar panels heat the water in the indoor swimming pools, reusing 30% of the water thanks to an innovative hydraulic system. 100 years on, the building conserves the façade bricks as a cover element. The advanced panelling system used, which is unique in Spain, places Bilbao at the forefront of new construction trends in Europe. 7 cinema screens with the latest technology in digital screening will convince even the most demanding audience. Capacity varies from 70 people in the two small screens to 245 people in the largest screen. 4.20 metres is the height of the gym, thanks to a steel framework with glass floors that allows bathers in the swimming pool to be observed above their heads. The aim of the architectural combination is to obtain large, open spaces filled with light. This light will emerge from the Alhóndiga every day of the year to culturally light up our city.

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    Alhóndiga is a modernist building that used to be an oil, liqueur, and wine storage facility. It was built in 1909 by Ricardo Bastida. Ten years after its opening, in 1919, a fire led to its closing. It remained closed until the present. In 1999, it was designated as an Asset of Cultural Interest. It has been rehabilitated and transformed into an open, innovative, and sustainable construction by French architect and designer Philippe Starck. The Latin...

    Project details
    • Year 2010
    • Work finished in 2010
    • Cost $75 Million
    • Status Completed works
    • Type Multi-purpose Cultural Centres / Showrooms/Shops / Sports Centres / Swimming Pools / Fitness Centres / Sports Facilities / Restaurants / Interior Design / Lighting Design / Leisure Centres / Art Galleries / Media Libraries / Building Recovery and Renewal
    Lovers 5 users