Guggenheim Museum Bilbao - Controlled Chaos in Architecture
The Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Basque County, Spain looks like a mass of swirls and curls chaotically reflected in the Nervion River. The architecture seems to flow like water in one direction only to drastically change its mind and circle back. While the Guggenheim Museum might look like controlled chaos, famed architect Frank Gehry wanted to create a contemporary work of architecture to match the art on display inside the building. Recognized around the world as the famous Guggenheim Museum Bilbao, Gehry succeeded in using the limestone, glass, and titanium to create curves of the building to capture light and reflect it inward into the interior space.
Funding the Guggenheim Museum
"The Basque government agreed to cover the US$100 million construction cost, to create a US$50 million acquisitions fund, to pay a one-time US$20 million fee to the Guggenheim and to subsidize the museum's US$12 million annual budget. In exchange, the Foundation agreed to manage the institution, rotate parts of its permanent collection through the Bilbao museum and organize temporary exhibitions." (source)
More than a Fabulous Building
The investment and architectural design of the Guggenheim Museum was complex, but the construction is an amazing feat of its own. On the banks of the Nervion River, the foundation of the Guggenheim Bilbao was a mixture of clay and river bed mud. Over 650 concrete pillars were driven into the bedrock 14 meters deep to make sure that the changes in the river would not shift the foundation. The reinforcement of the foundation alone required 25,000 tons of concrete.
"The base of the building is covered with beige limestone from the Huéscar quarries near Granada, cut from 5 cm thick slabs. It is clad in titanium plates, arranged in scales, on a galvanized steel structure. The Museum's exterior skin is made of 33,000 titanium plates. These titanium plates are only 0.4mm thick, which is much thinner than if steel plates had been used. Moreover, titanium is about half the weight of steel and the museum's titanium coating represents only 60 tons." (source)
Love for the Environment
Although the outside design of the Guggenheim rightfully gets vast applause in and outside of the architectural community, the construction of the Guggenheim expresses interest in honoring the natural beauty of the river and protecting the environment. This bold design of the museum purposely works in harmony with light and resists the elements, but the materials used to construct the building were picked with weather resistance and environmental impact in mind.
"Titanium plates is used to replace copper or lead because of their toxicity. Titanium is a low-polluting material, and each part has been designed differently according to its orientation on the building, so they correspond perfectly with the curves desired by Frank Gehry. The building is clear thanks to the walls, specially treated to protect the interior from the effects of the sun. The glass of the windows has also been treated to prevent light from damaging the exposed pieces." (source)
Melting Art into Architecture
Perhaps one of the most fascinating features of the Guggenheim Bilbao is the inclusion of artwork and sculptures outside of the building. By placing large scale art outside of the building, the architecture of the Guggenheim is included as a work of art in its design. The artwork invites visitors to enjoy and immerse themselves in the creativity and design of the building as an attractive, permanent work of art paying homage to architecture.
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