Alhóndiga Bilbao is a versatile event venue in Bilbao, Spain. It was designed by the French designer Philippe Starck together with Thibaut Mathieu. The building was opened to the public in 2010. The space is appointed a centre of culture and leisure. It has five floors above ground and two underground. Alhóndiga Bilbao includes a cinema, sports centre, auditorium, restaurant, library, exhibition facilities and shops.
Alhóndiga was originally a wine warehouse designed by the Basque architect Ricardo Bastida and inaugurated in 1909. However, in the 1970s a new wine warehouse was built and Alhóndiga was became disused. Several projects were proposed, such as a museum of modern art, but all plans were rejected. Finally in 1994, it was decided to renovate the wine warehouse and turn it into a sports and cultural centre. In 1999, the Government of Basque Country decided to declare Alhóndiga a conservation site, meaning a culturally interesting public building. The outside brick wall of the building has been left unchanged to represent the early 20th century modernist architecture.
The media library of Alhóndiga Bilbao is called Mediateka and has three floors. Newspapers and magazines, among other things, are on the first floor. The particular purpose of this floor is to attract a younger audience and there is also a work room, kiosk and childcare room. The personnel are available to answer any questions. The largest part of the first floor is occupied by the children’s section called Txikiland, where parents can help their children discover the joys of reading and learning. In addition to books and music targeted at different age groups, there is also material for babies, a cinema for children, design aimed at attracting early readers and easy-to-read books. There is also a section for parents, where they can look for books on child psychology and parenting.
The second floor is mostly dedicated to films, science, technology and self-study. People can surf online, play computer games, listen to music, read comic books in a dedicated area, where special consideration has been paid to female comic book authors, and get information on sports, nutrition and well-being. There is also information available for young people who are moving to their first apartment and looking for a job. Much thought has been directed at school children and young adults, who are offered information to support them in the changes that take place in their lives and advice for finding information and using communication technology.
The third floor is ideal for reading short stories, essays and novels available in several languages. It is also a good place to learn about other countries and cultures and to explore other eras, travelling, cooking, gardening, etc. You can enjoy books in peace in an environment where wasting time is actually time well spent… During the summer, books and magazines can also be read on the garden terrace of Mediateka.
There are computers on every floor of the library. Cosy work booths are great for the self-study of information technology and foreign languages. There are secluded facilities for listening to music and watching audiovisual material. Separate rooms with sofas and televisions provide the possibility to watch channels from all over the world. There are also rooms for independent studying and remote working. Mediateka organises various literature and entertainment events that are available for viewing in the Nettoki online service of Alhóndiga.
Mediateka has over 250 seats for reading and studying. The opening hours are longer than in Finland. The library is open every day. From Monday to Friday it is open from 10 am to 10 pm and on weekends from 11 am to 9 pm.
The surface area of Alhóndiga Bilbao is 43,000 m2.
Mediateka media library covers 4,000 m2.
Text: Elisa Helenius