All Change At Bilbao
Michael Wilford (Michael Wilford Architects)


View Of Bilbao From South-East

©Michael Wilford & Partners

At about, it must be now 6 years ago, back in 1989, I arrived in the office one bight and surmy Monday morning to be confronted with a scrawled note from the ottice cleaner who said there had been a phone call very early in the morning from Spain, with a question as to whether we wanted to be the architects for a new bus station in the centre of the city of Bilbao, northern Spain. And so we checked around and did establish that this was indeed a sincere request from the city planning officer of Bilbao to us. 80 Jim and I went out to Bilbao. We spent 2 or 3 days tramping around the site and the city itself, getting to know Bilbao and it soon became clear to us that the challenge was not merely to make a bus station, but also in turn to contribute to the life. social life, and the financial well—being of the city.


Plan Of City. Left: With The Site As Found. Right: With The Proposed Bus-Railway Station Shown

©Michael Wilford & Partners

So we spent 3 months analysing the brief, analysing the site. And. interestingly enough, when we visited the site which was given to us, it was presently occupied by railway lands very near the central station in Bilbao, but a site which is essentially industrial. right in the middle of the city, it does nothing at all for- the social and economic life, it's a kind of hangover of the 19th century development of the station. The site was given to us, we met with the railway authorities and we were surprised to learn that the railway authorities did not know that the city planned to put a bus station on their land. But the railway company, to their credit, could see the benefit of this development and, after a couple of weeks consideration, came back to us and said "look, if you're going to build a bus station on that land, we think it would be a good idea to combine it with plans that we've got to build a new railway station." So suddenly the project doubled in size. from a bus station to a combination of a bus station and a railway station. And so the authority decided that the vested interests. the numerous interests should form a sort of consortium to act as our client.

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