History and Theories of Building Environment Introduction to Bilbao Effect The Bilbao city emerged from a small fishing and trading village during the ancient periods. The economy of this area grew progressively and remained based on commercial activities. The town benefited from its location at the port of Atlantic Ocean and the right to trade across the mainland of Spain, America, and parts of Western Europe as guaranteed by the Spanish King[footnoteRef:1]. Also, the nearby mineral ore deposit exploitations especially coal contributed the rapid development of Bilbao city in the 19th century. The growth of the village leads to the developments in the Bilbao city’s major companies (finance and commerce), increase in population, infrastructures, and the general urban expansion as it is today. The resultant unique and attractive features that appeared in Bilbao as a result of the various developments are known as the Bilbao Effects. Bilbao Effect refers to the attention that something magnificent and wholly unique brings to a location, either for good or bad causes. The name Bilbao Effect came up after the architectural work of Frank Gehry uniquely presented a museum and a regenerated former port center as commissioned by the Basque government in collaboration with the Guggenheim Foundation[footnoteRef:2]. Gehry designed the structure in a unique and outstanding technique, and therefore, it stands out as the central landmark in the Bilbao city, immensely recognizable to the international community as an architecture of its kind. [1: Plaza, Beatriz. “The Bilbao effect (Guggenheim Museum Bilbao).” (2007).
] [2: Plaza, Beatriz. (2007). ] Besides the architectural work of Gehry in Bilbao city, he also designed several other unusual structures in the world, also recognizable in their special nature. The examples include the Los Angeles’ Disney Concert Hall and the Dancing House in Prague all of which have their unique and attractive features. Gehry’s architecture in Bilbao is not the only distinctive star architect/design. There are several other unusual structures in the world, also recognizable in their special nature, for instance, the cultural icons such as the Sidney Opera House designed and developed by the Lego Company. The entire designs are, nevertheless, acknowledged as the Bilbao Effect, presumably because the work of Gehry in Bilbao steered immediate success of other star architects just like him.
The Bilbao Effect was coined to describe the works of other star architects as well as the iconic architectures mentioned to enhance particular cities and towns as the world-class, tourists, and cultural destinations[footnoteRef:3]. There are several arguments based on the architecture of Jørn Utzon, the Sidney Opera House compared with the Frank Gehry’s Bilbao project. One would argue that the work of Jørn Utzon attracted or influenced the work of Gerhy, the 19th-century Guggenheim museum project. The following discussion compares the two projects, their critical and public reception both today and in the old time, historical, political, and social circumstances that underscored the identity and architectural formation. [3: Plaza, Beatriz. (2007).
] Comparisons of Frank Gehry and Jørn Utzon Projects The Sydney Opera House is one of the Utzon’s famous project and arguably among the world’s most iconic architectural masterpiece of the modern architecture. The Danish architect, Jørn Utzon won the tender to design and develop the project in 1957[footnoteRef:4]. He initiated and completed the design but before the completion of the project, he resigned from it in 1966. The project was completed in 1973, without him[footnoteRef:5]. On the other hand, Frank Derhy designed and completed the Bilbao project in the year 1996. The project is one of the iconic structures and a masterpiece of architecture.
[4: Carter, Adrian, and Roger Tyrrell. “The Sydney Opera House:
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[4: Carter, Adrian, and Roger Tyrrell. “The Sydney Opera House:
politics in the creation of an icon.” In Politics in the history of architecture as cause and consequence.
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politics in the creation of an icon.” In Politics in the history of architecture as cause and consequence.
Proceedings of AARCHIST 2013 conference. DAKAM Publishing, 2013.
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Proceedings of AARCHIST 2013 conference. DAKAM Publishing, 2013.
] [5: Carter, Adrian, and Roger Tyrrell. 2013. ] Jørn Utzon is an architect whose work touches the Japanese, Chinese, Islamic, and Scandinavian cultures among others[footnoteRef:6]. He integrated ancient heritages and his architectural discipline to design in a way that relates to site conditions, and natural dispositions for organic structures. His projects range from Sydney Opera House to monuments for commerce and government, and the beautiful humane housing (a church with remarkable lyrical ceilings). Utzon designed the Sydney Opera House between 1957 and 1973, one of the best known architectural work in the 20th century. The building was his masterpiece and one of the outstanding iconic buildings, an image whose beauty is known throughout the world. Gehry, the Bilbao project architect remarked that during the Pritzker award of Utzon that, the Sydney Opera House was a building designed and made before its time in technological history and despite the challenges of negative criticism and malicious publicity, Utzon still managed to change the image of an entire nation. [6: Carter, Adrian, and Roger Tyrrell. 2013.
] The Utzon’s award received in 2003 is due to his contribution to the Australian architectural profession and was worth celebrating. However, there were also elements of historical shame in the Utzon’s architectural struggle. In the April of 1966, the architect left Australia leaving his masterpiece unfinished and he was never to return. The local professionals were powerless regarding the protestation to complete the work of Utzon during the ultimate need. The prize was a vindication of faith for the industrialists, architects, and engineers who collaborated with Utzon. These were Peter Myers, Bill Wheatland, Richard Leplastrier and others. The reward was also shared with the Sydney architects who were outspoken champions of Utzon throughout the controversy, for example, Harry Seidler. Utzon was, however, pure amidst the controversies and history affirmed his sincerity[footnoteRef:7]. [7: Carter, Adrian, and Roger Tyrrell. 2013.
] The Utzon’s career path was tragic and contained the postwar modernity, which included the self-critique in the 1950 (uncertain realization) and the revolutionists’ redemptions in the late 1950s. In 1956, the competition for the Sydney Opera House enabled Utzon to achieve the idea of monumentality in the 20th century, what modernism had not realized then. There were several other designs of the architect that followed including his 1957-1960 Kingo, 1962-1963 Fredensborg (seminal options to seidlung), 1968-1976 Bagsvaerd church (his regionalism theory), 1971-1983 National Assembly Building which gave a new image for the Middle East governance, and the semi-submerged amoeba-like unbuilt Asger Jorn Art Silkeborg Museum of the 1963-1964, all which gave an intriguing image of the nature enclosed space[footnoteRef:8]. [8: Carter, Adrian, and Roger Tyrrell. 2013.
] Utzon combined the social values and natures with the architectural design principles he gathered from his traditionally Nordic concerns in countries like Japan, Mexico, and China. His ideas are still applied today in the Danish architect, Japan timber platforms, and the human plateau of Aztec designs. Utzon was renowned for his continual interest in the tectonic workings and Islamic architecture. He used such ideas in designing and establishing the Sydney Opera House. In 1967, Giedion Sigfried regarded Utzon in the future titan of modernism. The work was a tragic spell. The work of Utzon is still artistically held aloft by the young architects, theoreticians, and historians; however, the ideal practice faces brutal construction and greedy political culture.
On the other hand, Frank Gehry’s Project, the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao or the Bilbao museum project began in the 1980s when the government of the industrial town gave Frank Gehry, an international architect, a free reign on the work[footnoteRef:9]. The main objective was to create a structure using an architectural approach that would attract dividends for the town. The business decision of the Basque president entailed coming up with a design like what Sydney Opera House already achieved. Gehry, however, delivered a titanium surrealist construction that was outstanding and shocked the locals. The Bilbao building was referred to as the greatest of the time according to Johnson. The official launch of the structure enabled VIP tours[footnoteRef:10]. The building was unique and better in the flesh than just a refined building. It was essentially crude, and that is what made it iconic. The total cost of the building was US$180 million averaging at approximately US$9,780 per square meter[footnoteRef:11]. The link between performance and the built environment is still an area of research explored by architects. The project has influenced the lives of the modern population in various aspects. [9: Zulaika, Joseba. Guggenheim Bilbao Museoa: museums, architecture, and city renewal. Vol. 1. University of Nevada Press, 2003.
] [10: Zulaika, Joseba. 2003. ] [11: Zulaika, Joseba. 2003.] The architect, Gehry built a spectacular fish-scaled Bilbao museum, which recovered its cost in just a year. The project spearheaded a social, cultural, and economic revival of Bilbao of the Basque region. The area which was regarded as blighted with the violence of terrorists became a popular destination point in Spain[footnoteRef:12]. The ambitious architects and city planners have ever since adopted the iconic buildings following the Bilbao museum star architect’s design, with the hope of providing profits and similar returns. [12: Zulaika, Joseba. 2003.]
The design aimed at solving the problem that was at hand in Bilbao. Gerhy suggested that a design must aim at solving the underlying problem so that people appreciate the effort. He also believed that a successful building may not be churned out to order, but quite a miracle that may not be explained. For example, the case of the Guggenheim museum was to approach the Sydney Opera House design, which did not work until the design plans changed with the intention to uniquely change the surrounding community emerge[footnoteRef:13]. [13: Carter, Adrian, and Roger Tyrrell. 2013.]
Gehry recognized that hyping the capabilities of one building to develop others distracts from the real business of coming up with good buildings. His architecture was both unique and spectacular, all built from his point of view. Architecture today, as a profession needs a masterpiece, but other architects occasionally managed to eke one out. The designs of Gerhy and specifically the most successful Bilbao project is one of the most imitated jet-setting star architectures. The Bilbao city museum was a unique initiative that led to the introduction of other international fine designs. The former president of the Royal Institute of British Architects, Jack Pringle, recognized Gehry as an architect who has played a crucial role in rebranding Bilbao to its current situation[footnoteRef:14]. However, he also noted that the effect would be different with the omission of lesser-heralded enhancements. Bilbao city is today a spectacular example of a city’s regeneration.
[14: Jencks, Charles. The iconic building: The power of enigma. London: Frances Lincoln, 2005.
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[14: Jencks, Charles. The iconic building: The power of enigma. London: Frances Lincoln, 2005.
] Analysis of Historical, Social and Political Underscores that Influence the Architecture Different elements underscore architectures in the current world; historical, social and political factors. The world’s designs rely commonly on the previous architects, especially those that originated from the multicultural space of the history of Australia, construction culture, and the cosmology in Islamic architecture. Any architecture has cross-cultural, historical, and urbanism interpretation. The historical, social and political issues that surround the architecture of Bilbao Museum and Sydney Opera House are hereby illustrated. These projects were designed from the original thoughts of the architects, so they play a critical role in influencing the modern world’s architectures[footnoteRef:15]. [15: Jencks, Charles. 2005.
] Guggenheim Bilbao Museum was built in Spain’s Basque Bilbao, at the riverside of River Nerivon in 1996 by Frank Gehry. Its location was the 19th-century shipyard[footnoteRef:16]. It is connected to the old city by a bridge identifiable through its natural setting of both rivers and mountains. The Bilbao museum is iconic, exceptional, and dominates the surrounding. The building was a freestyle building, ignoring the surrounding environment, and contrasts the existing environment without enhancement. The Bilbao city gained a lot economically and transformed into a tourists destination area after the construction of the museum. [16: Jencks, Charles. 2005.
] The Bilbao project was a product of Revitalization Plan for the Bilbao city. The economic support of the region was quite weak and outdated before the renewal strategy. The plan, therefore, aimed at the transformation of the city to be a modern industrial region in the European arena. In 1973, the Bilbao economy was placed in position 56 among the European cities[footnoteRef:17]. The economy of Bilbao was depressed in the 1980s when the steel industry and the emerging business competition in the heavy manufacturing from Southeast Asia’s tiger economy collapsed[footnoteRef:18].
[17: Zulaika, Joseba. 2003.] [18: Carter, Adrian, and Roger Tyrrell. 2013.]
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[17: Zulaika, Joseba. 2003.] [18: Carter, Adrian, and Roger Tyrrell. 2013.]
Basically, the built museum is a representation of the Basque Administration, which was committed to enhancing the economic standing and the cultural visibility of Bilbao and the European Community.
The Bilbao museum is a result of collaboration between the Basque Administration and the Guggenheim Foundation.
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The Bilbao museum is a result of collaboration between the Basque Administration and the Guggenheim Foundation.
The aim was to enhance the areas’ economy by the Basque Bilbao’s government in Spain. It is known that the area’s economy grew progressively and remained based on commercial activities. The town benefited from its location at the port of Atlantic Ocean and the right to trade across the mainland of Spain, America, and parts of Western Europe as guaranteed by the Spanish King.
Also, the nearby mineral ore deposit exploitations especially coal contributed the rapid development of Bilbao city in the 19th century. The growth of the village leads to the developments in the Bilbao city’s major companies (finance and commerce), increase in population, infrastructures, and the general urban expansion as it is today[footnoteRef:19].
The resultant unique and attractive features that appeared in Bilbao as a result of the various developments are known as the Bilbao Effects. Bilbao Effect refers to the attention that something magnificent and wholly unique brings to a location, either for good or bad causes.
The name Bilbao Effect came up after the architectural work of Frank Gehry uniquely presented a museum and a regenerated former port center as commissioned by the Basque government in collaboration with the Guggenheim Foundation.
Gehry designed the structure in a unique and outstanding technique, and therefore, it stands out as the central landmark in the Bilbao city, immensely recognizable to the international community as an architecture of its kind.
[19: González, Sara. “Scalar narratives in Bilbao: a cultural politics of scales approach to the study of urban policy.” International journal of urban and regional research 30, no. 4 (2006): 836-857.
] There are also certain social circumstances that underscore the architecture of the museum in Bilbao. The situation at Bilbao had significant urban and social impact. The urban prior image of the town was acknowledged due to the engagement of mining, and industrial activities[footnoteRef:20]. The people within the community engaged in the employment in the industrial sector in Basque, Bilbao. However, because of the plan at hand by the government of Spain in 1980s due to progressive economic decline, the idea of Bilbao museum came up and the implementation had social various impacts to the population. In Basque, there was decline and decay of the industrial system, environmental degradation, population stagnation and emigration, issues of social exclusion, and high unemployment of between 25% and 35% in the greater areas of Bilbao[footnoteRef:21]. The issues above were identified in the areas such as Rotterdam, Turin, Pittsburg, Hamburg, and Glasgow. These situations compelled the government of Basque, Bilbao to initiate the design of urban transformation structure, capable of creating new opportunities for the locals, and in the tertiary sector. [20: González, Sara. (2006): 836-857.
] [21: González, Sara. (2006): 836-857.] The manual labor in 1800 was often based in agriculture, but today it only accounts between 2% and 4% of the surrounding countries’ workforce. The industrial sector was the basis of the economy as well as employment in the nation. It is, obvious that, to some extent, automation, robotics and other forms of technological developments lead to substantial reduction of workforce in the industries. The primary sectors, which is agricultural and manufacturing industries has been a source of employment that generate between 20% and 30% of the jobs[footnoteRef:22]. On the other hand, the cultural leisure, and trade activities in other industrial sectors provide up to 70% of the jobs. [22: González, Sara. (2006): 836-857.]
The Bilbao project did not aim at discarding the industrial tradition of the people, but to improve the economy through technologically updated approaches. The Bilbao project development aimed at invigorating the cultural activities, a factor that promoted the city to a level of the high-class world cities. The cultural activities, arts, and leisure constitute a measure of a collective vitality that determines the uniqueness and attractiveness of a city. Development and enhancement of the Bilbao museum fine arts, theater, music, libraries, sports, help in improvement of health, social, and cultural values. The Guggenheim Bilbao Museum has, with no doubt, enormous international influence. The development of the Bilbao project was quite effective, and generated the new jobs and improved the employability of the locals by reducing the unemployment rate from 25% to 8% before the global economic catastrophe that subsequently leads to the elevation of the unemployment rate to a rate of approximately 12%[footnoteRef:23]. [23: González, Sara. (2006): 836-857.]
The Bilbao museum project also has political influences. The government of Basque Country offered to support the modernization of Bilbao, in the late phase of the industrial era of the 1050s and 1960s[footnoteRef:24]. The dictatorship during the reign of Franco (1939-1975) of the Basque country led to the loss of the country’s special autonomy. The state suppressed the culture of Basque, including the ban of the use of Basque language. This subordination initiated opposition and promotion of nationalism by the armed movement in 1959 to allow full independence from Spain. The ETAs operations caused serious political, economic, and business repercussions, frightening investors off, isolating city surrounding and dividing opinions instead of moderating influences[footnoteRef:25]. Nevertheless, Bilbao went against all the odds and grew despite the political troubles. The collapse of Franco’s regime enabled the democracy of Spain in 1978[footnoteRef:26]. This reinstitution revitalized the regional power, and through the process, the Basque country received high autonomy from the central authority/government[footnoteRef:27]. [24: Zulaika, Joseba. 2003.] [25: Zulaika, Joseba. 2003.] [26:
González, Sara. (2006): 836-857.] [27: González, Sara. (2006): 836-857.]
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González, Sara. (2006): 836-857.] [27: González, Sara. (2006): 836-857.]
The regeneration process of the Bilbao’s economy was complex and entailed a wide range of interests as well as actors. The date when the recovery of Bilbao began is not exact. However, the political leaders at both regional and provincial levels realized the need to initiate structural changes in the 1980s, following the Sydney Opera House structure. This revitalization was just a few years after the Spanish democracy when the crisis was at nearly its peak[footnoteRef:28]. The interaction of all political actors from different government levels and the consensus of various political players drove a development of a strong regeneration strategy. [28: González, Sara. (2006): 836-857.]
The Sydney Opera House designed under certain political circumstances. The Danish architect, however, described as a private person, became entangled in political issues. The architect encountered the challenges of a hostile press, which compelled him to leave the country, before completing the project[footnoteRef:29]. The completion of the Sydney Opera House was completed by others under Peter Hall’s direction. The basic structure was, however, done to completion by main architect, Utzon, only leaving the interiors to be done by other designers. [29: Carter, Adrian, and Roger Tyrrell. 2013.
] Gehry acknowledged that Utzon built a building ahead of its time, despite the technological availability challenges, malicious publicity, and the negative criticism from the press. The structure changed the image of the country and is regarded as a piece of architecture that had a universal impact and whose presence is felt in the contemporary world[footnoteRef:30]. [30: Carter, Adrian, and Roger Tyrrell. 2013.
] Conclusion The Sydney Opera House is one of the Utzon’s famous project and arguably among the world’s most iconic architectural masterpiece of the modern architecture.
The Danish architect, Jørn Utzon won the tender to design and develop the project in 1957.
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The Danish architect, Jørn Utzon won the tender to design and develop the project in 1957. He initiated and completed the design but before the completion of the project, he resigned from it in 1966. The project was completed in 1973, without him. On the other hand, Frank Derhy designed and completed the Bilbao project in the year 1996. The project is one of the iconic structures and a masterpiece of architecture.
It is crucial to note that both architectures had unique demands depending on the environment of the proposed development areas. The two original architectural designs that were both outstanding were the Sydney Opera House project by Jørn Utzon and the Guggenheim Bilbao Museum designed by Frank Gehry. Today, a lot of architectural works and designs are influenced by the concepts behind these architectures. The approach of echoing such designs to produce unique structures that fit as per the area of development is known as the Bilbao Effect. The technological, political, social and the historical perspective of Bilbao project influenced architectural designs in the modern world more than the Sydney Opera House project.
Despite the uniqueness of the Sydney Opera House, the project faced a lot of challenges, including the disappearance of the main architect, Utzon, which halted the process of design execution for some time before his return. On the other hand, Gerhy countered all the odds and used his unique design to progressively complete the Bilbao project, that completely changed the face of Bilbao and enhanced the culture of the region as well as the economic stability of the Braque country. Both Utzon and Bilbao were rewarded for their good handy works and uniqueness in design. Different factors influence the architectures in the current world. These issues include the historical, social and political factors. The world’s contemporary architectural designs rely commonly on the previous architects, especially those that originated from the multicultural space of the history of Australia, construction culture, and the cosmology in Islamic architecture. Any architecture has cross-cultural, historical, and urbanism interpretation. The historical, social and political issues that surround the architecture of Bilbao Museum and Sydney Opera House are hereby illustrated. These projects were designed from the original thoughts of the architects, so they play a critical role in influencing the modern world’s architectures.
References Carter, Adrian, and Roger Tyrrell. “The Sydney Opera House:
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References Carter, Adrian, and Roger Tyrrell. “The Sydney Opera House: politics in the creation of an icon.” In Politics in the history of architecture as cause and consequence. Proceedings of AARCHIST 2013 conference. DAKAM Publishing, 2013.
González, Sara. “Scalar narratives in Bilbao: a cultural politics of scales approach to the study of urban policy.” International journal of urban and regional research 30, no. 4 (2006): 836-857. Jencks, Charles. The iconic building: The power of enigma. London: Frances Lincoln, 2005.
Plaza, Beatriz. “The Bilbao effect (Guggenheim Museum Bilbao).” (2007). Zulaika, Joseba. Guggenheim Bilbao Museoa: museums, architecture, and city renewal. Vol. 1. University of Nevada Press, 2003.

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