The BAB 2 renovation and restructuring project reflects a pronounced trend in contemporary urbanism to densify plots dedicated to commerce by extending built surface areas and replacing car parks previously laid out horizontally with vertical silos.
While it is true that space is defined by the limits imposed by the built environment, such a project provides the opportunity to design the kind of facades, external pedestrian walkways, and links with the environment that would not have been possible if the building stood alone, isolated in a sea of automobiles. The renovated shopping centre stitches together an urban fabric torn and tattered by the complex’s previous manifestation. It becomes a major focal point, both in terms of its spatial impact and its role in the community.
It is in reference to the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, a symbol of modern Basque identity, that we developed a somewhat deconstructivist approach to the BAB 2 extension. It was our intention to integrate into this non-linear design process certain traditional Basque Country elements, including local fabrics and the reds and whites typical of traditional buildings, to create an architectural project combining modernity and contextuality.
The facade walls, a myriad of superimposed sloping planes, feature several different materials, which combine to create a contrasting tableau : untreated concrete, thermo-lacquered metal boxes, lightdiffracting cladding, standing seam zinc sheets, and rendered masonry walls. Between these walls, untreated wood cladding serves as a visual reference to the external floor covering.
The new building is surrounded by silo-style car parks, from which it is separated by wide pedestrian “ramblas”. On the outside, the facades alternate opalescent and red strips of glass. Nevertheless, the ensemble, which can be read as a powerful digital geometry, enables us to glimpse a genuine depth, revealed by the spacing of the glass strips. The treatment of the facades facing the promenades is based on a graphic approach: a red line, illuminated at night, runs around the entire parking silo, tracing, as in a painting, an abstract wave on a background of raw materials, in this case steel and concrete.