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Bienal Internacional de Arquitectura

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An exhibition recreates great urban projects in the Basque Country that did not come to fruition

  • Three years of research by several lecturers and students of the UPV/EHU have resulted in this exhibition with large-scale models. Some examples: the Port of Peace in Bilbao or the New Sangüesa.
  • The exhibition can be seen at the Higher Technical School of Architecture of the UPV/EHU, dedicated to the first promenades and avenues of our cities.
  • Four lectures on the exhibition and the featured locations will be held this week at the Basque Institute of Architecture to explore the subject in more depth.

The construction of the first green spaces in our cities coincided with one of the most prolific and unitary periods of Basque architecture, a time of urban revival promoted under the umbrella of the Enlightenment, between the second half of the 18th century and the first half of the 19th century. An exhibition that brings together some of the projects of the period, built, not built or built but modified, is now coming to the Higher Technical School of Architecture (ETSA) of the UPV/EHU as part of the Basque Country International Architecture Biennial Mugak/.

Under the name 'Enlightenment Walks and Alleys in the Basque Country', and organised by the ETSA itself, it shows the public these first urban green spaces through original plans, large-scale models and photographs. The exhibition presents the results of three years of research carried out thanks to the agreement between the Department of Territorial Planning, Housing and Transport of the Basque Government and the ETSA of the UPV/EHU. 

In a few decades, Basque cities were ennobled by neoclassical urban projects and architecture. Meanwhile, a more fragile and subtle urban transformation spread over practically the entire territory, embellishing not only the big cities, but also the towns and even the rural populations: the promenades, avenues and tree-lined meadows built as a stage for the new social customs of the time.
This new urban phenomenon defined for the first time a transition between the cities and their surrounding territory. In addition, they were often the origin of the urban extensions that would later enlarge cities, giving their historic centres their present form.
An exhibition focuses on this phenomenon and presents plans, drawings and computer graphics of the main Basque promenades and avenues, created by a team made up of lecturers and students from the UPV/EHU's Bachelor's Degree in Architectural Foundations. They are also completed with large-scale models of the two most ambitious city projects ever planned in the Basque Country: the New Sangüesa by the architect Santos Ángel de Ochandategui and the project by Silvestre Pérez for the Port of Peace in Abando, Bilbao, both built in the School's FabLAB. 
To explore the subject in more depth, four lectures on this phenomenon will be held this week at the Basque Institute of Architecture. The first one tomorrow Tuesday at 19:30h, where the curators Andrés Caballero Lobera and Aritz Díez Oronoz will make a general approach. On Wednesday, the 17th, at 19:30, Professor Alberto Ustarroz will give a talk on 'Four architects, four cities: intertwined lives and works', on the renewal of the idea of the classical city with examples such as the Plaza Nueva in Vitoria and Bilbao.
On Thursday, the 18th, the conversation will focus on the Port of Peace in Bilbao. The curator Aritz Díez Oronoz will offer 'El Puerto de la Paz: a city of canals, promenades and parks', where he will explain how a re-reading of the project based on the reconstruction of the original topography of the place - strongly altered after the construction of the Bilbao expansion a few decades later - has made it possible to "shed light on precisely those aspects of the project that are most genuine but least understood by the studies carried out until now".
Finally, on Friday 19, the curator Andrés Caballero will address the other project recreated on a large scale in the exhibition: 'La Nueva Sangüesa de Santos Ángel de Ochandategui'. The traces of the city of Nueva Sangüesa presented correspond to an unrealised project. Destroyed by the flooding of the Aragón River in 1784, the project for the construction of a new city "is one of the most interesting in Basque urban planning and can be considered the father of all the other urban experiences that would be developed in the following decades under the umbrella of the Enlightenment", Caballero pointed out.

The Programme is being prepared