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The building: Bizkaia Aretoa

 

This building is located in one of the most emblematic parts of Bilbao. L-shaped, it opens out onto the estuary and the Guggenheim Museum, right in the centre of Avenida Abandoibarra, between the Padre Arrupe footbridge and the bridge known as the Puente de Deusto. It has a constructed surface area of over 9,000 square meters, spread over six floors. The 2,300 m2 ground floor provides a space for the building's main auditorium, Mitxelena, with room for 441 people, a large 400 m2 foyer, two meeting rooms and a spacious gift shop. The first, second and third floors have an area of just over 1000 m2 and will house the offices of the Vice-Chancellor and the Governing Council, two conference rooms for 161 and 66 people, five exhibition areas and offices for several services of the university. In addition, the building has in its first floor a 400 m2 terrace with amazing views. In the basement there is a car park and several storage rooms.

Nowadays, this building hosts all kind of social, cultural, academic and scientific events. Most of them are organized by the UPV/EHU, but there are also a few organized by external entities. Due to this, Bizkaia Aretoa has become in a reference place for the field of events in Bilbao.

It is an emblematic building designed by the architect Álvaro Siza, who has given priority to "maintaining the scale of the place, respecting cornices and placing the ground floor at the service of the pedestrian, open and permeable, offering views inside with huge wings that integrate the private space in the public area and vice versa".

It has a mixed structure of wrought steel and concrete and its northern and eastern façades, which will form the main entrance to the building, are set with huge rectangular windows. The façades leading to the library, to the Deusto bridge and the Plaza Euskadi are clad in white marble, which is also found on the stairs and between the grey handmade tiles covering the main wall.

Álvaro Siza was born in Matosinhos (Portugal) in 1933. In 1988 he received the first European Mies van der Rohe prize and in 1992 the prestigious 'Pritzker' prize for the best architect. Siza was a teacher at the Escuela Superior de Bellas Artes and the Faculty of Architecture in Oporto, and has also been a visiting lecturer in Lausanne, Pennsylvania, Bogotá and at Harvard. He is also the Director of the Schilderseijk Recovery Plan in The Hague and the Reconstruction of the Chiado in Lisbon, practising in the city of Oporto, and is a member of the American Institute of Arts and Science and an Honorary fellow of the Royal Institute of British Architects. Siza's most important works include Da Boa Nova restaurant (1958), Schlesisches tor Housing in Berlin (1988), the Galixian Centre of Contemporary Art (1993), Marco de Canaveses's church (1997) and the Serralves Foundation 1999).

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