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Zaha Hadid Architects

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Olebeaga Masterplan

  • Bilbao, Spain
  • 2005 – TBC
  • Bilbao City Council
  • Planning

An urban regeneration project for a city at the intersection of exciting new trends developed in discussion with local communities. Exploring a range of scenarios to accommodate infrastructural change, promote urban intensification and define a rich local identity that offers continuity with the area’s history and natural character.

This urban regeneration project included the rehabilitation of local neighbourhoods, rail realignment and a new mixed-use development, in addition to scenarios testing for the relocation of the local football stadium and the integration of a highway slip road.

The planning of Olabeaga and San Mames presented a unique challenge for Bilbao and the surrounding Bizkaia region. While the area’s steep topography made it the natural limit to the central city’s 19th Century grid, it now occupied the key left-bank position for the expanding core of metropolitan Bilbao. The city’s centre of gravity was shifting toward Olabeaga – San Mames as downstream communities lead by the regeneration of Zorrotzaurre redeveloped for the 21st Century.

The area needed to find its unique identity amidst the multiple lines of transport infrastructure and intersecting patterns of urban growth.

A series of workshops with a broad range of stakeholders aimed to focus targets for a compelling, three-dimensional approach to a new urban morphology for the area. Existing patterns within the fabric of the waterfront community on the lower slope of the hillside could be extended into a criss-crossing network of streets and paths to negotiate between the steep terrain and central city above. Natural fissures in the fabric suggest a language of local paths connecting distinct plateaus. A fracturing of the down-slope faces of buildings show how a future architecture may respond to the slope while accommodating both movement and a sequence of pocket-sized open spaces.

The sweeping curve of the hillside and river offer dramatic potential to promote a range of panoramic views and modelling shows how this could be conserved both through the pattern of streets and a building morphology. In addition, this fabric can be shown to accommodate major infrastructural change, facilitate large-scale redevelopment and promote the effective inclusion of the area’s major institutions and structures into a continuous local pattern.




Zaha Hadid with Patrik Schumacher

Project Architect

Manuela Gatto

Project Team

Atrey Chhaya, Fabian Hecker, Dipal Kotari, Fernando Perez, Diego Rosales


Ove Arup Partners (UK)

Urban Strategy

Larry Barth (UK)