The project for a sports complex with indoor swimming pool in Galdakao is the third in a series of sports projects included in a line of common intervention around an initial understanding of what we call “building the void”, in resonance with the concept of void developed by the visual artists at the end of the 20th century.

Project title: Sports complex in Galdakao
Client: Galdakao City Council

Location: Galdakao, Biscay, Spain
Design: 1997
Completion: 1999
Architects: Sancho-Madridejos Architecture Office + AH Asociados. Juan Carlos Sancho, Sol Madridejos, Miguel Ángel Alonso del Val, Rufino Hernandez
Design team: Angel Alonso, Asier Atxurra, Antón García-Abril, María Esteban, Juan A. Garrido Consultants: Miguel AIdaz (building engineer), G.E. Ingenieros (MEP engineer)
Contractor: OHL
Area:    8000 m2

Sports complex in Galdakao By Sancho-Madridejos Architecture Office - Sheet2

The building sits on an exempt and regular plot, its main facade facing a major street, with the rear facade towards the Bilbao-San Sebastian highway.

The project focuses on creating a 45x27x7 “empty” space, inserted within a uniform space, that has a major impact in the whole scheme. Its spatial tone is delivered by the use of light and the smoothing of transition spaces.

Sports complex in Galdakao By Sancho-Madridejos Architecture Office - Sheet4

This generic operation, already developed in other projects, is specified in this case in the interaction with light in the two main spaces: the multipurpose court and the pool area, as well as the central audience stands that separates both areas. This way, the different repetition of the longitudinal void distinguishes the two spaces.

The multipurpose court unfolds through a south-to-north side gallery, tangent to the void above it. Gallery and translucent void grant a certain quality of homogenous light, dense and silver, to the space below, emphasizing the metallic gray light of the north of Spain.

Sports complex in Galdakao By Sancho-Madridejos Architecture Office - Sheet5

The pool opens completely towards the east, in a vertical progression: a monolithic concrete base, a translucent belt of compressed glass and a transparent belt on top. This progression dominates three stacked spaces on the inside.

This main theme puts in relation the ground floor, which accommodates the changing rooms, with the stands in the first floors, creating a vertical open space, with light coming from the east and the west.


A single compact concrete wall-skin envelops the uses, reproducing the limits of the plot, broken only on the point of access. The interaction between the boxes containing the court and pools and this perimeter wall cause the different access spaces of the building, opening towards the main street. A courtyard/solarium, towards the south, takes over the different spaces and phases of movement inside the building.


Rethinking The Future (RTF) is a Global Platform for Architecture and Design. RTF through more than 100 countries around the world provides an interactive platform of highest standard acknowledging the projects among creative and influential industry professionals.