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Balmori in Bilbao
NY firm wins competition to design landscape around Guggenheim

City officials in Bilbao, Spain hoped that a new museum by a famous American architect would start the faded industrial city’s renewal, but nobody could have predicted how successful it would be: the “Bilbao Effect” has launched hundreds of cultural buildings in cities around the world. But the park space around the museum itself still needed help. In August, another American, Diana Balmori, won a competition for the design of Campa de los Ingleses Park in the city’s Abandoibarra district.

Balmori was faced with the difficult task of connecting a series of jigsaw-like pockets of open space with a 33-foot elevation difference across the park. “Designing this project was like bending piece of paper into a threedimensional shape and making it into landscape, like a 3-D sculpture,” said Balmori. Her team went so far as to design the park’s vending facilities and bathrooms into terraced walls so as not to disrupt the landscapes’ continuity.

Central to the design for Campa de los Ingleses Park are paths that undulate, creating a series of curving terraces that rise and fall with the contours of the park. Balmori explained,“It’s all very mathematical. The paths have sinusoidal curves, as do rivers, to emphasize their flowing form.” When the Campa de los Ingleses Park is done in 2010, Abandoibarra and the neighboring Guggenheim itself will finally get their own Bilbao Effect.

Owen Serra