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Bilbao today is a prime example of urban restructuring, having transitioned from an industrial city to a city of services and culture.

Discover the urban evolution of Bilbao visually and intuitively by taking a historical look at the most relevant projects undertaken in the process.


In project

Bilbao's transformation has no start and end date, but rather is an ongoing process.

Learn about the projects that will become the new landmarks to consolidate Bilbao as a leading city in urban planning and architecture.


New constructions

For some time now, Bilbao has been unveiling significant urban and architectural novelties.

This section will provide full detail of recent endeavours which are already a part of the New Bilbao.


Heritage buildings

Bilbao has taken great pains to preserve its heritage as much as possible, making renovating and preserving Bilbao's historic buildings a key aspect to combining the new architecture with that of inspired artists of yesteryear.



Modern architecture has raised twenty-first century Bilbao off the ground. As great national and international architects -many of them recipients of the prestigious Pritzker Architecture Prize- left their mark in the form of modern works of art.The city's commitment to world-class architecture is self-evident and has been successful.




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What had once been the parish of Deusto was directly connected with the shipping industry while still a rural area influenced by the farming and livestock sector. The remains of some palace buildings can be found along the riverbank and some farmhouses remain on the mountainsides. During the 1920´s the area was annexed to the city and became a new neighbourhood connected by its famous bascule bridge.

The transition from the 19th to the 20th Century brought with it the construction of large university campuses and high-end single-family homes (on an extension of the Campo de VolantÌn) across the Estuary from the Ensanche area.

iglesia de san pedro


The current structure of the church is the result of a thorough restoration done at the middle of the 16th Century, although the founding of the church dates back to the 15th Century. The tower, crowned by a cupola and lantern, was erected between 1745 and 1750. It collapsed in 1847 due to damage from lightning some years earlier. The parsonage and the new portico were built at the beginning of the 20th Century.

In 1960 a concrete gallery was installed over the choir, with the participation of Pedro Ispizua. In the 1970´s the new pastoral offices were added to the front of the building. They were later remodelled.

universidad de deusto


The University of Deusto, is the result of an eclectic project, with a ground plan comprised of cloisters and courtyards laid out in a double tridente. The university and the House of Mercy were the largest buildings to be constructed in Bilbao during the second half of the 19th Century.

The project was drawn up by the architect from Madrid Francisco de Cubas -Marquess of Cubas-, with the involvement of Bilbao architect José María Basterra in the creation of complementary spaces: recreational and sporting areas, corridors, etc.

The original building has been transformed and these spaces have been absorbed for other uses. There was also an addition to the East side during the last decade of the 20th Century.

The new library designed by Rafael Moneo connects the campus to Abandoibarra with the Padre Arrupe footbridge. The university has crossed the Estuary and become part of the “new Bilbao” of singular buildings.

universidad comercial de deusto


Construction began in 1916 and was finished in 1921, completing one of the two L-shaped structures in the original plans by Amann, parallel to the side wing of the Literary University.

The design has a ground plan with one central structure, with the facade, and three structures at the back, creating a bay which protrudes from the rest of the facade and marks the entrance. Covered galleries on the lower level connect with the rest of the existing and planned buildings on the university campus. José María Basterra participated in this building as well as the Literary University.

New uses and needs have called for changes, most of all in the interior layout. Examples of the most significant changes include the removal of the covered galleries connecting with the nearby buildings and the construction of a new floor over the East wing.

facultad de ciencias economicas y empresariales


The building has a good location and an admir-able relationship with the green park that surrounds it. The design was adapted to the topography of the terrain by using a stepped structure for the wing with classrooms. The interior distribution and exterior style of the different bodies allows for a quick and clear appreciation of the design´s key elements.

Entrances and vestibule, library, classrooms, offices, assembly hall, etc, each receive a design treatment that is differentiated but at the same time fluid. The different floors and views efficiently combine functionality and design.

In this project Basterrechea, at the height of his career, moved away from the compact building model (“block house architecture”) that had been used in school architecture up to that time. The once again used a more organic model that he had already tried at the School of Engineering. He achieved impeccable clarity in the design and construction of this work through the distribution of volumes and the use of bare brickwork as a basic material.

viviendas municipales deusto


The original rationalist style lends almost a brutalist personality to the structure and its robust stairwell while incorporating some of the concepts introduced by Swiss architect Le Corbusier in Mar- seilles such as volumetric composition, duplex residences, superficial treatments, etc.

This project does not overlook the urban and spatial development of the complex in the positioning of the three blocks; and proposes variations in the location of the hallway or corridor.

The building, with its experimental style, marked an opportunity for pause in the architectural process of the city. Unfortunately this enriching proposal has not had any continuity but with the project architect Rufino Basáñez began to stand out as a spokesperson for the new generation in Bilbao. Popularly known as “the American houses.”