The natural light pinging dazzling glass block - Basque Health Department Headquarters, Bilbao, Spain

Oct 16, 2019

One may think the building is an art gallery or museum in place of an office building. But the 13-story headquarters of the Basque Health Department is one of the epochal buildings in Spain. The Health Department Headquarters in Bilbao, Spain, is a superb example of modern glazing satisfying all of the needs of a newly refurbished building. The new glass facade greatly improves the carbon signature of the building and meets the strict demands of heritage planning, where certain characteristics of the building must be maintained, whilst also dramatically improving the energy performance of the building as a whole.  A dazzling block of glass and steel is designed by Coll-Barreu Arquitectos. Its polyhedral glass facade grant the natural light to ping inside and make the interior lucid and also reflects the sky. It is one of the popular tourist attractions in Bilbao. It covers an area of 9200.0m2. The building is situated in the crossroad of the two most important streets of the Ensanche (1862) in Bilbao. The restrictive city zoning rules force to repeat the existing building typology, reducing penthouse, chamfering corners and rising a tower. The building association together steep communications and general services within a bone, a prism next to the dividing wall that serves to seven open-plan floors for offices. Above these, there is two more level for institutional and representative uses. The meeting room is placed at the top of the building, into the tower. By the contrary, the Auditory and its services rooms are in the cellar. Under all of this level exist three more floors used just for employees parking.

It has an energetic,fire-resistance and acoustic insulation rather than zoning rules requirement. This unoriginal plane is not just a wrapper but a figure between Bilbao and the inner space. This component allows grasping the building. In the other hand, that folded element produces multiple views of the city and changing its appearance depending on the point of view, the hour and the season. The objective of this element introduces the mutability, the dynamic spirit of the city.

There are two layers in façade. The outer one is a glazed skin made up of framed glass set in a tubular frame and the building’s windows another inner layer.  There are two big benefits to the design: noise from the busy boulevard is noticeably reduced and solar heat gain is decreased via radiation reduction and a breathable wall system.

In addition to the increased energy efficiency afforded by the double skin, the building holds meetings in a daylight two-story atrium that opens to a roof deck. To promote denser land use, the seven stories below roof contain office space and a subterranean three-floor robotic parking lot.

The time of day or night also affects the way the building overlooks Bilbao and allows the natural history of the building to penetrate the modern glass facade. This is an ideal example of modern design being used to reinvigorate a classic piece of historic architecture.