Bilbao Jardin

main imageDiana Balmori of New York based Balmori Associates was invited to design a garden for the International Urban Garden Competition (Bilbao Jardin 2009). The site chosen for the garden is on the steps between two Arata Isozaki towers leading to the steel and glass Campo Volantin footbridge in Bilbao, Spain.

The garden has an amorphic life of its own, following the movement of people on the steps.

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A description of the garden (from Balmori Associates):

“The garden climbs the stairs, running in undulating lines of different textures and colors. Envisioned as a dynamic urban space; it moves in time and with the seasons. Its lush planting cascades down as though the garden was flowing or melting, bleeding the colors into each other. In one gesture, it narrates a story of landscape taking over and expanding over the Public Space and Architecture, therefore transforming the way that the stairs and the space is perceived and read by the user. It is a garden of contrasts: the contrast between native and exotic plants, between the red flowers and the green grass, between the green grass and the grey paving. In form, the garden engages the horizontal plaza with the rising vertical plane of the steps and the upright gesture of Eduardo Chillida’s sculpture. Like the famous Spanish Steps in Rome, the garden is not only designed for visitors to ascend and descend, but for them to linger, and just be.”

More information on the competition and winners.

More about Balmori Associates.


  1. That would be interesting to know, but the construction information is not given. It was installed as a temporary planter so maybe it could have been hand watered. I also wondered about drainage, since I did notice in some photos there was water seepage out of the bottom of the planter.Also wonder if the corten steel stained the stairs at all.
    They only offer us the pretty pictures.

  2. A great design! Interesting use of Corten steel.
    I design raised bed gardens for clients in Phoenix, Arizona.
    The comments about getting water to the plants and dealing with under-the- panel seepage are valid.
    This was not designed by a gadener. And what about lighting!
    I’ve used Corten on dirt but not on a man-made materials or stone surfaces.
    It’s something I believe was put together on paper by a talented artist with
    very little kowledge of container gardening.

    Try this in the heat of Arizona and you get vegetable soup!


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