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Working and studying in Europe: A place in transition

A collaboration between BA Interior and Spatial Design and IED Kunsthal University Bilbao 

3rd year BA Interior and Spatial Design (ISD) students at Camberwell College of Arts collaborated with design students from IED Kunsthal, a design university located in Bilbao, Spain.

The collaboration started as the school opened its new headquarters on the island of Zorrotzaurre. Kunsthal was established in 1997 in Irun a border town next to France. In 2019 the school decided to move to Zorrozaurre and be part of the latest major urban regeneration project in Bilbao. The island has shown constant social and industrial decline since the 1970s; today, only around 500 people live on the Island.  The regeneration project is defined by concepts of sustainability, recovering a degraded space and converting it into a new well-connected quarter, with affordable housing, environmentally friendly industry, cultural and social facilities and open spaces. The Master Plan project was designed by the famous Zaha Hadid Architects. Kunsthal’s campus is an old paper warehouse that has been converted maintaining its rawness and genuineness.

hand pointing to the city street
Image by Shibboleth Shechter

With the support of Kunsthal students, BA ISD students were offered the unique opportunity to develop ideas at this early stage of the regeneration project; ideas that could inform the future of the island. They responded to a brief titled ‘A Place in Transition’ that tasked them with proposing and designing a new use for a proposed open space or for one of the listed industrial buildings. The 15 final projects include proposals for community centres, creative hubs, innovative open spaces, and environmentally friendly industry.

As they could not physically visit Bilbao due to the Covid-19 pandemic, BA ISD students received support from Kunsthal students and staff in the form of live virtual tours, maps, plans, short films, and photographs. They exchanged ideas online throughout the year in bi-weekly meetings and termly reviews.

view of houses on the riverside Bilbao
Image by Shibboleth Shechter
stuents in the classroom with projection on the blackboard
Image by Shibboleth Shechter

Isabela Fontana

Urban Pergola

A proposal for an urban Pergola with a hexagonal shape, hosting a typical Zorrotzaurre food market. The form is inspired by a beehive and represents community cohesion. The pergola is covered with a green roof, creating a green lung to improve the health and wellbeing of visitors and residents.

An wooden bridge-like structure overlooking a water bed, with plants underneath it
Urban Pergola by Isabella Fontana, UAL
People working together in a space filled with rock patterns
Destuibarra by Nikshay Auchoybur

Nikshay Auchoybur


The proposal transforms an abandoned villa, 78 Deustuibarra, into a recreational space for the student population of Zorrotzaurre.  The ground floor is a lounge area with tables, chairs and a pool table. The first floor is a study area.  The renovation is inspired by Carlo Scarpa’s, valorising the history of the Villa. Interior structures and furniture are all designed using local recycled building waste.

Shunyu Rao  

Open Studios

Currently, most of the creative activities are concentred on the eastern side of the Island.  The proposal aims to activate the western side with an arts hub, inviting the public to visit the artists in their studios, building up the art community on the island.

A space structure created through colourful cubes
Open Studios by Shunyu Rao
Rows of square structures in a natural landscape
A journey through Zorrotzzurre by Kamila Revaite

Kamila Revaite

A journey through Zorrotzzurre

A proposal for s series of 12 ecosystem follies – woodlands, grasslands, wetlands and urban landscape - spread throughout the island, creating a green corridor for humans and wildlife, preserving existing habitats and encouraging the regeneration of those that have been lost.

Pablo Raventos Surroca

Uncovering Public Space

This project aims to habilitate two spaces for public use. One in its social core, aimed to stimulate social interaction, and another one in the north end of the island aimed at contemplation. Both spaces are a ground opening to explore how we artificially layer over and push our experience far away from the original site, and to allow people to know what they are standing on, vastly unknown to the urban dweller.

It is also a critique to how we diminish the natural potential of spaces such as the riverside, rich in biodiversity and haptic experiences by showing that no intervention can work just as well or better than a designed intervention with all of its limitations. At the same time, the spaces used have been demolished and deserted for more than 10 years now and symbolize how the construction industry ignores the local wellbeing by confining the available space to a very limited one even when they are not being used or changed.

Diagram of a cave like structure with people sitting around it
Uncovering Public Space by Pablo Raventos Surroca
Delicate drawing of a figure on a platform, overlooking a body of water
Flujo y Reflujo by Cicely Stanford

Cicely Stanford

Flujo y Reflujo

Is it possible to reconnect the islanders of Zorrotzaurre to the river Nervion and in doing so, improve their mental wellbeing?

Built for purposes it no longer serves, the island of Zorrotzaurre in the centre of Bilbao has become a contradiction. Whilst it is a physical representation of the rich industrial history of the area, it's purely functional construction means that it is literally walled off from both the mainland and the Nervion river. It therefore represents, but is isolated from, it’s context and environment. The purpose of the Flujo y Reflujo (ebb and flow) pavilion is to reconnect the island and its people with the Nervion river and crucially, to allow them to experience the mental health benefits of being exposed to the ebb and flow of tidal water.

Mel Martinez


By tackling the issue of abandonment, the project Shaded was created to give life to a blank canvas. Shaded focuses on creating public spaces and cultural facilities for locals to express their artistic talents, create businesses and enjoy the beauty of their surroundings. Using only sustainable materials and working closely with the sun’s direction, the building has been designed so that each room is an experience. With ever-changing patterns happening at every hour of the day the interior to shaded is always changing. In order to embrace the abandoned site, a walkable green roof structure was designed to not only encourages biodiversity in the city but to add public spaces for people to engage and embrace the island they lost. Due to its sculptural form and location, shaded allows 3 different viewpoints all facing the river. Using shadow design and columns the buildings mirror the interior by providing different shadow experiences with its forest of columns.

Grey stone wall with geometrical windows overlooking a river
Shaded by Mel Martinez
A boat in front of a sleek glass and steel structure
A Sustainable Way by Zhijin Zhang, UAL

Zhijin Zhang

A Sustainable Way

A proposal for a modular elevated public space along the River Nervión.  The modular elements resemble those of a toy train set and include: a walkway, a stairway, a conversion bridge, an entrance and exit and a multi-use space. It is envisaged that the design and function will be co-deigned with local  residents.

Caitlyn Issac

A Pathway

A public green space on the tip of the island, including a pathway paved with the Basque Baldosa pattern designed with local residents, native planting and seating areas overhanging the river and moving with the changing tide.

Semi circular wooden structure surrounded by palm trees
The Pathway by Caitlyn Isaac
Diagram of a long buildig
Community Centre by Pip Roe

Pip Roe

Community Centre

My design proposal is to convert a disused car manufacturing factory office headquarters into a community centre and garden. Serving as a local / social hub, the centre would be available for all of the community to use, accommodating a range of activities and functions based on the needs and wants of the community. The ground level will provide a bar/cafe seating area with exterior decking. The firth floor will be more modular and accommodate a range of activities such as yoga, community discussion, market/event/exhibition space, and workshops.

Tengyu Zhao

Community Recycling and Upcycling Centre

A proposal for a community recycling centre to be incorporated in the masterplan by Zaha Hadid Architect, situated on one of the proposed open spaces.  The recycling centre   includes community spaces for creative upcycling and education and a garden fertilised by food waste.

Spacious wooden structure with seats and bins
Community Recycling Centre by Tengyu Zhao
A digram of circular interlinked platforms
Floating Market of Zorrotzaurre by Francesca Fry

Francesca Fry

Floating Market of Zorrotzaurre

A bridge floating on the Estuary of Bilbao connecting Zorrotzaurre and Olabeaga.
Unlike conventional bridges, this design is not only a transitional space but also a destination. In keeping with local traditions, the Floating Market of Zorrotzaurre also houses a food market.

Changming Ling

P-6 Extension

Pavilion 6 is a theatrical LAB for Performing Arts professionals. It was developed by ZAWP (Zorrotzaurre Art Work in Progress); a project born in 2008 to provide meantime uses for the approved Ribera de Deusto and Zorrotzaurre masterplan.  The Pavilion 6 extension proposal will enlarge and enhance the centre as the population of the island grows and transforms.

A layered digram a space, each section layered onto the other
P6 Extension by Changming Ling
designs for a healing place for the residents of a post-industrial city.
The Re-imagination of Zorrotzaurre by Yuwei Zhang

Yuwei Zhang

The Re-imagination of Zorrotzaurre

The proposal consists of fifteen recreational spaces inspired the lost architecture of Bilbao. Zorrotzaurre is an industrial abandoned island. A healing place for the residents of a post-industrial city.  A project that revitalises the city, whilst keeping alive memories of its past. Visitors are invited to follow a route that takes them amongst others to a music manufacturing gallery, a tomato paradise, a cheese factory, an open-air cinema, a reading room and a pool.

Paper Craft

Else Elizalde

The project responds to councils’ strategy of increasing creative spaces and replacing vacant lots on the Island. Paper Craft is a craft-based factory where sustainable paper, from locally grown plants is made.  Craft based making has experienced a resurgence within recent years in response to social dialogue regarding sustainable consumption and production. The proposal will also bring economic value through attracting tourists to have tours of the facility to understand the process and collaborating with IED Kunsthal, producing sketchbooks and canvases for students and staff.

Two buildings with large glass windows in a courtyard, surrounded by trees
Paper Craft by Else Elizalde, UAL

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