´Basque. Architecture and design’, the first reissue of a collection dedicated to twelve expressions of culture

Euskara. Kultura. Mundura.


For architecture and design to be considered part of a region’s cultural heritage, the two disciplines must first be separated and defined, followed by a review of their place within the cultural landscape. ‘Basque. Architecture and Design, the first reissue of a collection dedicated to twelve cultural expressions promoted by the Etxepare Basque Institute, does just that. Published eight years ago, the first edition has now been updated and the complete series is slated for release this year. 

Peio Aguirre, art critic, publisher and curator of independent exhibitions, is author of the book on architecture and design. His work is divided into four parts: ‘The Origins of Modern Architecture in the Basque Country’, ‘Modern Architecture in the Basque Country’, ‘The Origins and Pioneers of Industrial Design’, and ‘The Current State of Design’. Within these chapters the books illustrates how tradition and avant-garde have come together in the land of Euskara, seen through the window of culture, a meeting ground for local and foreign.

In the section on architecture, Aguirre traces the beginnings of the Modernist movement. The first part opens with the Club Náutico Donostia-San Sebastián, built in the rationalist style by Jose Manuel Aizpurua and Joaquín Labayen. The two Guipuzcoan architects represented San Sebastián’s cutting-edge vanguard. He also mentions other names from the Modernist movement, such as Luis Vallejo, Fernando Arzadun and Florencio Mocoroa.

Aguirre then delves into the features and peculiarities of contemporary architecture. He examines the shared authorship of architectural projects and the disappearance of the ‘omnipotent architect’. He discusses several memorable buildings, including the Basque Culinary Center, the renovated wholesale fish market in the port of San Sebastián, the Arantzazu Basilica, the Santiago Calatrava Airport in Loiu, and the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao. He also provides a review of Basque architectural firms.

Turning his attention to design, Aguirre traces the path from traditional craftsmanship to the machine tool industry. Nestor Basterretxea stands out as one of the most influential names in design. He also focuses on the development of design culture, mentioning, among others, the Bilbao DZ Design Center, Basque Design Association (EIDE), and the Bilbao Kunsthal Design School.

Aguirre takes a look at furniture design and the growing fashion trend known as ´New Basque Style´. He also points out that now is the time to apply design to gastronomy.

How it all started

The re-publication of these twelve books or monographs on Basque cultural expressions originated in 2012. It was then that the ´Basque Culture Collection´ was published in Basque, Spanish and English. The books focused on Basque language, literature, classical music, composition, dance, cuisine, visual arts, traditions and cinema.

The titles and authors of the books were as follows: ‘A Brief History of the Basque Language’ by Ivan Igartua and Xabier Zabaltza; ‘Basque Literature in the Twentieth Century’ by Estibalitz Ezkerra; ‘Basque Classical Music’ by Karlos Sánchez Ekiza; ‘Basque Song: Pop, Rock, Folk’ by Jon Eskisabel; ‘A Collection of Prints’, dedicated to visual arts, written by Miren Jaio; ‘Basque Cinema’ by Joxean Fernandez; ‘Architecture and Design’ by Peio Aguirre; ‘Basque Dance’ by Oier Araolaza; ‘Bertsolarismo’ by Joxerra Garzia; ‘Traditions’ by Joseba Zulaika; and ‘On Basque Cuisine’ by Hasier Etxeberria.

According to Mari Jose Olaziregi, editor of the collection, the aim was "to provide up-to-date, engaging and reliable information on Basque creation, presented in an accessible manner for anyone interested in the subject".

The complete collection will be reprinted in 2021 in three bilingual formats: Basque and Spanish, Basque and English, and Basque and French. The topics will cover bertsolarismo, Basque traditions, gastronomy, composition, classical music, theatre, plastic and visual arts, dance, literature and film. Now available in digital format.

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