LEIOA – Lying close to the port of Bilbao, the traditional agricultural district of Leioa has gradually given way to the rapid urban buildout of its surrounding industrial counterparts. A recent public housing development carved a rounded plinth into a hillside in the town’s Torresolo neighbourhood that would support four residential towers with identical square footprints. Global atelier IDOM split the commission with a local firm and agreed upon a uniform material composition for the façades, interspersing a white-brick envelope with dark aluminium window strips. Hoping to grant observers a view as pleasant as the tenants’ overlook, they sought for an aura of lightness in contrast to the imposing bulk they perceived in Leioa’s other developments.

However, the individual executions beyond these common tenets took on radically different approaches. Whereas the other firm opted for a solid classic of rectilinear abstraction, IDOM chose a unique, bold and fluid design. Parapets ribbon around a windowed substructure, with their outward projections forming individual balconies for the apartments. The main entrance sinks into the volume to a hall bounded by a winding staircase, continuing the curved motif and forging a seamless relationship between interior and exterior.

The common staircase area is also the most traditional aspect of the building, allowing the residents a central, luminous place to build a community.

Photos courtesy of Aitor Ortiz


In Mark 61, we take a look at how architecture can influence government activity with a sneak-peek into architectural office XML’s forthcoming book Parliaments. Find your copy in the Frame store.