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Mugak/ ends its third edition with record attendance and consolidates its position as an architectural event in the Basque Country

  • Around 70,000 people enjoyed the programme offered by the International Architecture Biennial of the Basque Country from 27 October to 30 November.
  • This edition has helped to make its presence felt throughout the territory, with almost a hundred activities spread throughout Donostia, Vitoria and Bilbao.
  • "Mugak/ brings architecture closer to the public, demonstrating that it is not something hermetic reserved for scholars or specialists", said Pablo García Astrain, director of Housing, Land and Architecture of the Basque Government.

The Mugak/ International Architecture Biennial of the Basque Country has closed its third edition with record attendance. Around 70,000 people have enjoyed the exhibitions, conferences, workshops, congresses and other activities that have taken place this year not only in Donostia, but also in Vitoria and Bilbao, compared to the 45,000 of the previous edition. Thus, this third Mugak/ Biennial has established itself as an architectural event throughout the Basque Country, making its presence felt throughout the territory for the first time.

The event has been organised by the Department of Territorial Planning, Housing and Transport of the Basque Government, which has been promoting the Biennial since 2017. "Mugak/ seems to have no ceiling and that is a very good sign, but we should not only look at the attendance, which may not always be increasing, but also at the high quality of the contents. Mugak/ has been bringing architecture closer to the public, combining quality and quantity edition after edition, and demonstrating that architecture is not something hermetic reserved for scholars or specialists", said Pablo García Astrain, director of Housing, Land and Architecture of the Basque Government.

Under the slogan 'Heritage and modernity', Mugak/ kicked off on 27 October at the Teatro Principal in Donostia with the protagonist of this year's central exhibition, Carme Pinós. A few days after the Catalan architect herself closed the Biennial, on 30 November, it was announced that Pinós was the winner of the National Architecture Prize 2021, the highest award in this field at national level. Her exhibition, 'Estudio Carme Pinós - Context and Concepts', can still be visited until 27 February at the Basque Institute of Architecture.

One of the highlights of this year's edition is the large increase in the number of visitors to exhibitions organised by the collaborating associations. In fact, the most visited exhibition this year was 'Arantzazu, 70 years', organised by the Gipuzkoa branch of the Official Basque-Navarrese Association of Architects and located at the D'Museoa in Donostia. 

Another of Mugak/ 2021's successes has been Habic's travelling exhibition, 'Artisans of Design', which has been located in public spaces in the three capitals of the Basque Country. Specifically, the tribute to the pioneers of design furniture in the Basque Country - consisting of eight iconic pieces by eight Basque companies - has broken the record on its way through Bilbao. Thus, Basque production has been the great protagonist of the edition, with local themes being the most popular with the public.

"Once again this year, the Biennial has been the result of the collaboration between different and diverse agents. Thanks to them, we are reaping good results after this third edition. We are very satisfied with its scope, which confirms its consolidation on the architectural scene", emphasised the curator of this edition, José Ángel Medina.

An extensive complementary programme

This third edition of Mugak/ has also had an extensive and complete complementary programme which, unlike previous editions, has concentrated in a single month fifty lectures, a dozen workshops and more activities such as guided tours, congresses and conferences that have related architecture with other fields such as cinema or education. 

Almost all the exhibitions have had some kind of activity around them: workshops for children and families on the work of Carme Pinós, a series of conferences to approach the sanctuary of Arantzazu from an architectural point of view, a visit to the Old Part of Donostia guided by the typographic set collected in the book 'Donostia from A to Z'..... In addition, three congresses were held during this third Biennial: the European Europan event in Donostia, the seminar 'Perspectives on productive housing' in Bilbao and Sestao and the annual event on territorial planning Euskal Hiria in Vitoria.

Renowned professionals have also visited Mugak/ in this third edition. Among the outstanding speakers, in addition to the protagonist Carme Pinós, there have been international figures such as the French Rudy Ricciotti or the Swiss Christian Kerez, who have contributed to Mugak/ transcending borders once again this year. In addition, there have been other renowned national architects with great built works, such as Oscar Tusquets or Fermín Vázquez.

Collaborative spirit

Once again this year, the programme was the result of proposals put together by the participating associations and entities: the Peña Ganchegui Archive, the Official Association of Basque Navarrese Architects, Arkupe, the Association of Contemporary Art Galleries of San Sebastian, Atari, Baskegur, Elías Querejeta Zine Eskola, Eraikune, the Higher Technical School of Architecture of the UPV/EHU, Espacio Reflex, Europan, the Faculty of Fine Arts of the UPV/EHU, San Sebastian Festival, Habic, Institut Français de Bilbao, Maushaus, Museum Cemento Rezola, San Telmo Museoa and Sestao Berri. "It is a participatory Biennial; this is how it was conceived from the beginning", García Astrain remarked at the closing ceremony of Mugak/ on 30 November.

The Programme is being prepared