Azkuna is a nice centre to see in Bilbao. There’s coffee at Hola Bar and a cool rooftop terrace with city views and a bar (La Terraza). The exterior is from over 100 years ago and the interior is completely refurbished.
Philippe Starck is the man behind the transformation of the Alhóndiga building (alhondigabilbao.com), an old wine warehouse on Plaza Arriquibar that was converted into a public complex in 2010.
In 1905 architect Ricardo Bastida was commissioned to build a new wine exchange in Ensanche de Albia, Bilbao, and he outlined a large functional advanced industrial building in a modernist style. When the activity was transferred to the new wine exchange in Recalde in the 1970s, the building was left waiting to be put to a new use.
Today 43,000 square metres of Azkuna Centre are filled with exhibition spaces, shops, cafés, a gym and a swimming pool with frosted glass bottom, where you can take a dip for €7. Take the virtual tour of the pool here.
On ground floor the main lobby has 43 individually designed pillars in marble, stone, terracotta, bronze, aluminium and wood, each representing different historical periods.
My favourite is the electronic sun above. Starck suspended a large-scale LED screen and this sun is actually an animation of the sun burning, like the ones we see in National Geographic.
Take the virtual tour of the ground floor here.