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Galindez Slope and Pau Casals Square, Bilbao, Spain

Tuesday 02 Dec 2008

Bridging the gap

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The restoration of Galindez Slope and Pau Casals Square in Bilbao, Spain has social as well aesthetic implications 

The recent restoration of Galindez Slope and Pau Casals Square, designed by architects ACXT, has been completed in Bilbao, Spain. The ambitious project, has sought to unite the two disparate districts of Txurdinaga and Otxarcoaga in Bilbao’s District 3, which have until now been separated both physically and socially.

Prior to this redevelopment, the two districts were physically separated by a poorly-maintained metal stairway and embankment, which not only acted as a physical barrier between Txurdinaga and the more isolated Otxarcoaga, but also symbolised a social barrier stopping these districts from truly integrating themselves with the surrounding city. To remedy this the architects proposed shaping the embankment by using inclined polygonal planes of different materials, such as the existing rock, various vegetation and concrete, to accentuate and complement the unique topography of the area. Furthermore, ACXT designed a horizontal viewing platform to make the best use of the elevation of the area by offering a vantage point over the city. Along with a gently sloping stairwell in place of the previous steep metal one, this has caused the embankment to be frequented by a greater number of pedestrians who use this as an alternative to taking the longer route around the embankment.

After the success of the restoration of the embankment on Jesus Galindez Avenue, the architects were also tasked with creating a children’s play area in the Plaza de Pau Casals, which continued the polygonal design aesthetic of the embankment, and helped transform what was previously a physical and social barrier into an area of connection and integration.

John Edwards

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