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Reform and extension of the School Nuestra Señora de Begoña. Bilbao.

José Manuel Blasco Blanco, Arellano Yangüas Blasco. Arellano y Asociados.

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This project happened as it does in the most of the big projects, due to small things.

The property, emphasised about a number of discreet interventions or reforms in one of its schools, in this case in Bilbao. When we came to know the building, we didn’t meet a building, we discovered that it was an eclectic and heterogeneous set that had evolved throughout history. Therefore, we were in the opportunity to contribute, slightly, in the history of the School Nuestra Señora de Begoña, in Indautxu. What started as a reform of a cellar, a fix of a patio and a new cover for one of the buildings, ended up growing in a total restructuration.

A historical analysis of the block and the parts involved was the first thing we had to make.

The schematic result would be as follows:

In 1921, the School Nuestra Señora de Begoña was founded, at that moment located in Allende’s chalet. In 1922 the School makes purchase of the terrains, allowing the architect José Mª de Basterra the creation of a proper building for such a school.

In 1930, the same architect, extend his first construction with the Church. After the turbulent periods of the Republic and the Civil War, the project is rebuilt in 1940, with the development of the block, with Ricardo Bastida as person in charge, who makes the pavilion “Díaz de Haro”.

In 1946, a building is created on the other side of the block, known as “la química” (Chemistry in Spanish), this building housed for a long time, laboratories and classrooms that carried out the activity that gave its name.

In 1947, Ricardo Bastida, makes the High Altarpiece of the church.

In 1951, the surroundings experiment a transformation imposed by the development of Bilbao at that time, what is the opening of the street Simón Bolívar. This new layout consolidates the block in the way we know it today.

In 1960, José María Sainz de Aguirre makes the last important interventions of the 20th century, in the block of Indatxu. These are the Urquijo building, the front part, the decision to lower the patio 3 meters with respect to the level of the street and the sports pavilion “Areiza”, whose state at this stage was one of the triggers of the intervention.

This historical development is what we met when we had to make the intervention. A number of independent buildings connected only by the patio, a logical consecuence of the different uses and times that the school has lived.

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Today we have some needs and program requirements for now and for the future that we could summarize in the following: mixed studies, with extended ages and different space needs, new technologies, isolation between the different educational areas, isolation between the students and teachers of different cycles, the famous extracurricular sports activities and the inclusion of school hours at night.

The first value we found, maintained and strengthened, is the big playground of the block, but the need to connect the school elements, plus the new classroom program required, the solution that is offered, is a bridge building three floors high and with patio on the cover, between the chemistry building and the original made by Basterra at 8 meters high from the patio. In this way we managed to connect internally all the spaces of classrooms with each other through a ring circulation, without occupying or dividing the said patio.

These two buildings, and all the internal reforms, are born from the study of the place, the program, are born from reflexions, that is to say the idea that has commanded the technique, it is the technology that has submitted to the idea to solve all the conflicts that this project implied.

We would like to think that our interventions have put an end to the constructive story of Indatxu, but we know that it is not so. We know within a few years, we will only be an integral part of the historic list of the interventions of the block, we just hope that these interventions in the future will be judged as accurate as they have seemed to us in the present.

Text Manuel Blasco Blanco

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