This Project is the consequence of a Contest of Ideas. It sought the integration of a deteriorated space into the city, giving its own character and image through the creation of a specific language for the new square.
Before this construction, the Indautxu Square was a deprived space that the residents avoided. It was split by a vehicular road. It was located above an underground car park and a commercial mall and it didn’t respond well to the subterranean infrastructures. One of the tasks of the project for the new square was to update these infrastructures in order to obey the current regulations.
It was necessary to replace vehicles with pedestrians as the centre of the proposal. Two of the three roads that crossed the square were removed, leaving the other only for public transport. At the same time the perimeter of the square was enlarged, and the sidewalks of the streets were widened in order to support the stores and allow the hotels to have exterior terraces.
The plot of Indautxus’s plaza was almost squared. Three of its sides bordered with vehicular roads, and the fourth with buildings: a block of apartments and the church Nuestra Señora del Carmen, a construction whose covering presents a characteristic inclination that we adopted for the small constructions that the square needed.
We wanted the square to present two kinds of spaces: the main one for social events, fairs, dances and exhibitions… and the other one surrounding the first, for walking, reading: a peaceful space.
When creating the social space we opted for a big central circle with a diameter of 40 meters. This circle would be used to celebrate fairs of the arts, of books, of local gastronomical products… To support all of these activities we built a translucent glass and wooden canopy more than four meters wide which goes along the entire perimeter of the large circle.
The remaining space between the squared perimeter of the plaza and the central circle would become a peaceful space. It shouldn’t be an open space but filled with vegetation and suitable for walking. Therefore we created circular gardens with a tree in its centre, of different diameters imitating the central space, and sprinkled throughout the square. Between them there are many picturesque paths for walking that, on the other hand, allow those who are passing through to cross the square in any direction.
This possibility to cross the square in all directions was another important goal that affected its definition: its urban quality. This goal presented a problem because there was more than three meters of difference in height from one extreme to the other, and we didn’t want to use steps or ramps that would affect the walking paths. The solution was to develop a continuous surface with changing inclinations generated from the union of the square’s centre with the perimeter through straight lines.
On the resulting continuous surface we had to resolve, through small interventions, the different problems caused by the underground. The emergent installations of the squares for the ventilation of the stores and of the carpark, the new accesses: lifts, stairs and mechanic ramps for pedestrians, ramps for vehicle access, public bathrooms and a booth for environmental analysis.
To unify this response we developed angles of different geometries, built with glass and wood on a stone base. We situated them on the perimeter of the plaza to minimize the problems of the surface. The coverings of these angles always have a sharp inclination related with the architecture of the church Nuestra Señora del Carmen, the most contemporary and unique reference within the urban buildings of the area.
The trees are composed of distinguished deciduous species along the big central circle: maple and liquidambar; a second ring of birches, thuya and yew trees, parrotia persica and differents perennial bushy species in the rest of the square. The bigger trees’ leafs will vary in colour throughout the year and will lose them in the autumns while the rest will keep the leaf through the seasons.
For the lighting three different sizes of lamps were created: 10, 8 and 6 metres high. This illumination will be complemented with other lights from the floor, in order to indicate the ‘main paths’ and to illuminate the bottom part of the trees’ crowns. The lamps are made with a wooden post at the bottom and a structure with a leaf-like shape at the top that is illuminated at nighttime through LED projectors. Each group of lights draws a different leaf.
The order of these lamps in the Indautxu Square follows a common pattern with the trees: the first ring around the circle includes the tallest lamps of 10 metres high, which also give the lighting for public events in the central circle. The second ring includes 8 meter high lamps; and the third ring, the furthest one, includes the 6 meter high ones. The lighting of the first ring is directed toward the square while the 8 and 6 meter high lamps illuminate the perimeter.
Indautxu Square. Bilbao (Bizkaia)
Architect: Ander Marquet Ryan
Building surveyor: Juncal Aldamizechevarría
Collaborators: Nicolás Espinosa, Aritza Astiz, Hernán Martín
Photographer: Elker Azqueta
Constructor: Balzola construcciones
Budget: 5.120.765 E
Project year: 2004
Construction year: 2006