Guggenheim Museum – Free-form metal façade

Bilbao-Guggenheim-Museum-1 Bilbao-Guggenheim-Museum-2 Bilbao-Guggenheim-Museum-3 Bilbao-Guggenheim-Museum-4 Bilbao-Guggenheim-Museum-5 Bilbao-Guggenheim-Museum-6 Bilbao-Guggenheim-Museum-7 Abbildung Bilbao 8 Abbildung Bilbao 9  Bilbao-Guggenheim-Museum-10Bilbao-Guggenheim-Museum-11Abbildung Bilbao 13Abbildung Bilbao 12

///Project: Guggenheim Museum

Location: Bilbao, Spain

Completed: 1997

Client: Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation/Foundacion del Museo Guggenheim Bilbao

Architect: Frank O. Gehry

Load-bearing structure: Skidmore, Owings and Merrill

Building services: Cosentini Associates

Façade: Construccones y Promociones Balzola

Executing company: Permasteelisa


The Guggenheim Museum is situated on a former warehouse site close to the Nervion River; a prominent location for this exhibit of modern art. The free-form structure consists of lime stone, titanium and glass and is accessible through a plaza facing the city. The entrance area leads to a central hall, the centre of the building, from which the individual exhibition rooms with their different cubature and lighting branch off. The volume of the exhibition rooms follows the geometry of the outer appearance of the building.

Gehry’s free architectural language is spectacular; it is meant to correspond in scale and texture with the industrial seaport Bilbao. Working models were generated from sketches, which were then translated into a digital data model using a 3D scanner. Further development was done with CAD programs used in the aviation industry.

Due to its prominence, the building caused a boom for Bilbao, the so-called “Bilbao effect”.

Fig. 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,10,11: Guggenheim Museum

The Guggenheim Museum is located next to the Nervion River and is embedded into an infrastructure of connecting roads and developments. It opens up toward the river with a wide bridge and its own body of water.

Fig. 8,9,12,13: Detail of the structure

The museum’s free-form body comprises a central structure that branches off into different building parts.


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