The City Is Characterized By A Single Museum- Guggenheim Bilbao by Frank Gehry

From Louvre Museum in Paris and Tate Modern in London to Guggenheim in Bilbao.

Guggenheim Bilbao in Spain (1997)

As a center of a commercial growth today, the city of Bilbao had struggled with a serious recession and an unemployment crisis back in 1980’s. Loosing its steel and shipbuilding industries led to an inevitable decline. Then, the city ultimately faced the underdevelopment of the urban economy as well as declining population. This discouraging situation might have seem like a turning point for the city itself to be a true witness for the upcoming urban development and the unforeseen economic revival.

The city of Bilbao established a redevelopment plan for the entire city and who knew building a single museum assisted in transforming the underdeveloped industrial city. In the first three years since opening, Guggenheim generated about 500 million in profit and had 4 million visitors.

Built of steel frame and titanium sheathing, Guggenheim Bilbao holds modern and contemporary art exhibitions. There are a total of four worldwide Guggenheim Museums, as Guggenheim Abu Dhabi is currently under development. The competition for this museum was proposed by Basque Administration to regenerate and uplift the entire city from the previous pain.

Gehry’s architectural philosophy

A Canadian-American architect, Frank Gehry constantly has achieved a success of creating a distinctive architecture that has been defined as another representation of art. It cannot be understood as just a simple metallic art installation; rather, it is closely projected with an extension to the industrial urban context. It has over nineteen galleries and they are recognizable by different usage of materials ; a layout of ten galleries on the orthogonal plan, covered by limestone and nine galleries expressed by the exterior titanium organic effect. These curvatures indicate exhibition spaces, where open glass area represents a public circulation of people.

A concept sketch by Gehry was unfolded as reminiscent of the image of the fish, which incorporates the beauty of unintended flow of drawing and formalizing. He fully utilized 3D design program (CATIA) that made it possible to actualize his bold organic forms with a unique fabrication and achieve its twisting curves. The exterior titanium panels enable different colors according to the angle of the light receiving.

The Bilbao Effect

The Bilbao Effect has become a global term to describe a phenomenon of having a landmark architecture that contains environmental and economical impacts on a city. In addition, a comprehensive regional revitalization alongside the establishment of the museum was highly praised globally for becoming a good example of the urban regeneration. A rise of an economic activity and a rapid accumulation of newly built architecture have revitalized the city since then. The museum played and still playing a major role that eventually ‘changed the political climate in the Basque country.’

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