Embedded Excursion to Bilbao

Sílvia Serra Associate Director of Arcadia in Barcelona


March 26, 2019

Last weekend, the BUSP370 Brand Barcelona class went to Bilbao as part of the fieldstudy of their course. Bilbao is located in the north of Spain in the Basque Country region. The city shares some characteristics with Barcelona and other post-industrial cities. It is a city that relied heavily on manufacturing industry up until the 1970’s, with important iron and steel industries, mining, shipbuilding and a sizable industrial port. While the port remains significant, these other industries started to decline from the late 60’s and by the 1980’s the city needed to undertake a complete overhaul of its economy in order to reorient it within the emerging global economy. During this time it developed its banking sector, promoted itself as a center for conferences and sought to reinvent itself as a tourist destination. With this tertiarization of the economy, the city also sought to project a new image to the world. However, Bilbao lacked the natural advantages of climate and beaches enjoyed by Barcelona. Rather than relying on large international events, Bilbao made flagship architectural projects the centerpiece of its redevelopment. The most famous example of this was the construction of the Guggenheim Museum, a franchise of the Guggenheim in New York, and the development of the previously derelict area of Abandoibarra which surrounds the Guggenheim site. The principal objective of the field study was to observe and evaluate the urban regeneration of Bilbao and the promotional strategies that the city employs.  In the class after the field study we will pool our findings and produce a poster evaluating the regeneration and promotion of the city.