The insertion of the designed object clashes with the convergence of different factors: the outstanding presence of Saint Nicholas’ church and the adjoining plaza with the annex building of the former town hall, the intricate identity of the residential volumes around, the harsh party wall of the telecommunications building and the oblique crossing of two marked local arteries. They are all joined together on this singular scenery of intense social and cultural connotations.

Company name:  LMU ARKITEKTURA
Project location:  Getxo, Spain
Completion Year:  2018

Other participants:

Design team: Ibon Pascual, Luis Solachi, Alvaro Albaizar, Javier Sedano, Enrique Lorenzo, Javier Zubiría, Ana Martín, Martín Urrutia
Engineer: Indotec, Juan Ignacio Eskubi, Gioroa
Consultants:  GD Consulting, Higini Arau Acústica
Rigger:  Arkaitz Amuriza
Client:  Getxo Townhall
Photo credits: Pedro Pegenaute

©Pedro Pegenaute

As a whole, the existing ensemble constitutes a balcony facing south to the Bay and the port of Bilbao (the Abra),crowded with a concerned audience. Thus, the arrangement of the containers for the complex required programme acquires maximal importance.

Its skyline shows a last and precious opportunity, an open unoccupied window struggling across the fierce competition: in a natural way, its place is immediately taken by the ascending foyer of the new Auditorium.

©Pedro Pegenaute

The volumes, both visible and hidden, are the result of the balance between the diverse surrounding requests and the expanding impulse of the crowded programming they contain.

So, the main volume of the Auditorium leans onto the mute party wall of the adjoining Telefonica building, whereas the free standing smaller one, hosting the Municipal Music School, is adjusted to the scale of the residential surroundings, thus lightening the visual perception of the complex. This volume also covers the main access to the Auditorium and the new open space generated behind by the ascending foyer, which is conceived as a great scaffolding to give access to the different access levels to the hall, while providing a panoramic view and showing its own presence to the Abra.

©Pedro Pegenaute

The tower of Saint Nicholas’ church retains its outstanding nature in a front view from the sea of the new generated skyline, to which the new presence of the theatre is added as a cultural beacon for the Abra.

The flat glazings on the façade makes a double-lay system which inserts its structural buttress from within, fixed by galvanised mechanisms. In the southern face, it acts as a ventilation device for thermal regulation and, in the northen one, as an accoustic correction mechanism.

©Pedro Pegenaute

The wrapping is generated by the adoption of an oak finger-joint wooden slats system ( drawn from the 40 x 20 cm stantard profile) optimised in two pieces (as it is severed diagonally), which works as a heat sink and stretches out to the whole as a unique on-site impression.



Luis María Uriarte is a basque well-known architect with over 30 years of professional career. Among his extensive work stands the expansion of the Museum of Fine Arts in Bilbao (COAVN award2003), and its new expansion in collaboration with Foster and Partners (2019),Gandasegi School (Bilbao , 2009) or the Performing Arts Centre in Getxo (2018)

Part of its work has been shown in several international exhibitions in Chicago, Boston,Shanghai , Melbourne or Sao Paulo, and also published in numerous journals ( El Croquis, Arquitectura Viva,Architecture d´Ajour d´hui,…) and in monographics such as Documentos de Arquitectura (1996) . His career is completed with his teaching experience, as usual teacher of projects in ETSAUN (University of Navarra ) and occasional teacher Academie Van Bowkunst (Amsterdam 2013-2018) as teacher Universidad de Navarra.

He has given lectures in several institutions such as Harvard Graduate School at Design Boston. Latin GSD Spring Lecture, 2008. He has received the COAVN Award several times as well as finalist in Andrea Palladio Award.


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