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La Alhóndiga Cultural Centre, Bilbao

Transforming a former warehouse into a 68,000m² cultural and leisure centre

The refurbishment of Alhóndiga Bilbao transformed a former warehouse into a cultural and leisure centre. Arup provided structural, mechanical and electrical engineering design for the project.  

The façade of the historic building, which was formerly used to store local produce, was preserved. Strips of floor 4m and 11m wide, adjacent to the façade, were also retained. The interior was demolished to create space for the new facilities to be housed within the shell of the original building. 

The new centre includes a swimming pool with a big terrace, library, cinemas, exhibition hall, retail, leisure space and an underground parking garage. The main challenge for the designers was to unite the existing façade and floor strips with three new inner buildings and two basements.