I’ve just watched a fascinating programme on Sky Arts 1 about 43 Columns in Bilbao. Alhóndiga Bilbao was originally a wine warehouse but was renovated by French designer Philippe Starck and reopened in 2010 as a “Culture and Leisure Centre”, consisting of a cinema multiplex, a fitness centre, a library, showrooms, an auditorium, shops, and a restaurant. The Atrium of Cultures features 43 columns.
Made from a wide range of materials including marble, stone, wood, bronze and terracotta, these columns are really individual sculptures. The programme shows the making of the columns in specialist laboratories/workshops in Italy and Spain.
I’ve never been to Bilbao, probably because I link it mentally with Barcelona and I’ve always been put off the latter by stories of pickpockets (plus I don’t like Gaudi). There are cheap flights from Manchester to Bilbao so I think it could be worth checking out. After all there is the Guggenheim as well, architecturally much better than Gaudi.