Basque Health Department Headquarters, Bilbao, Spain

Coll-Barreu Arquitectos
Date Built
Alameda de Recalde and Poza Lizentziatuaren Kalea
Often when an architect is seeking permission to add a radical new building into a community of traditional structures they are asked to show how the new build with reflect the style of its neighbours.  This new Health Department HQ building definitely reflects its neighbours although as a rather disassembled collage.  As the architect puts it, "... The folded façade generates multiple visual directions from inside to the streets below, and also from the highest floors to the landscape that surrounds the city, a highly effective mechanism for the incorporation of urban vitality inside the building."

From a practical point of view the "" website explains that, "...  The new glass facade greatly improves the carbon signature of the building and meets the strict demands of heritage planning, where certain characteristics of the building must be maintained, whilst also dramatically improving the energy performance of the building as a whole. ..... The architects Juan Carlos Coll Barreu, had to work strictly to the city zoning rules, and had to maintain the same type of building with a distinct link to the building orientation. A double façade is used to solve all of these Zoning rules, dramatically improving thermal performance as well as acoustic, fire and safety requirements, whilst also allowing the natural appearance of the building to be viewed through the glass façade."

"The building concentrates services and communications in a vertical spine attached to the longest party hedge and generates seven open floors assigned for offices. Above this, there are two floors for local representative and institutional use. The workspace benefits of the permeable, passable and livable volume of the building. The board hall takes up the double height of the tower. The auditorium, its foyer and its appendages are situated in the first basement. Further below there are two parking floors and one fourth level for archives. The car elevators allow access to all the basement levels." (Coll-Barreu Arquitectos)