The need for a new access
The project carried out by the architect Ricardo de Bastida on the Munoa estate in 1916 was not limited to the reform of the palace, but also addressed other complementary elements that completed its status as a large bourgeois mansion. These affected three issues: the garden, the agricultural exploitation and the accesses to the palace.
With regard to the accesses (including the garage that we present here), Bastida’s concern revolved around three aspects: the response to new demands, the improvement of the facilities and the architectural dignity.
The estate originally had a single access through Burtzeña, next to the current road from Bilbao to Santurtzi, through which horse-drawn carriages had access, but the irruption of the automobile in Bizkaia at the beginning of the 20th century led the owners to ask Ricardo de Bastida to construct a specific building for this means of transport, including the chauffeur’s and mechanic’s living quarters, the repair shop and the garage for storing the automobiles. The work was carried out in 1917.
The upper part of the property was chosen for its layout, due to its favorable location next to the Bilbao-Santander road. The cost of the work on this building was 47,945.76 pesetas.
The construction of the garage entailed the need to erect a new access doorway, which at the same time served to provide the palace with a complementary access to the main one. Because of this, it was decided to build a small porter’s lodge as well.
By 1917, when all the works were finished, the estate had two entrances, the one mentioned above from the Bilbao to Santurtzi road, which was the main one, and the secondary access for cars, next to which the garage and the porter’s lodge were built.
The first access maintained its preferential condition until the segregation of the property in 1975 (due to the construction of a new branch of the Bilbao to Santurtzi road) which led to its disuse, converting the secondary access (the one we are dealing with) into the main one.
Years later, a new access was opened through Llano Street when the “garage entrance” became unusable for cars when in the 90’s adaptation works were carried out on the Bilbao to Santander road due to the construction of the Cantabrian highway.
The construction of the garage and porter’s lodge (disappeared)
As we pointed out, the main objective was to build the garage/workshop and dwelling in which the architect, as in the porter’s lodge, applied an emphatic and monumental language in the image and likeness of the main building. The cost was 47,945.76 pesetas and the contractors in charge of the works were: Domingo Castañares for the stonework, Raimundo Zuñiga for the masonry, José Álvarez for the painting, Gerónimo Lasa for the carpentry, Eduardo Sáenz for the reinforced concrete and the company Delclaux for the glass. This building has come down to us and is the subject of this proposal.
At the same time, as we have also noted, the main entrance was also equipped with a porter’s lodge that sought to solve the functional deficit that the residence had in terms of the care of its surveillance. For this small building he used the same image and style as the palace and all this involved an outlay of 20,837.87 pesetas. Unfortunately this building disappeared a few years ago.
Both buildings were intended to convey to visitors the idea of a large bourgeois mansion which, by 1917, was completed by the palace, the porter’s lodge, the garage and the garden.
Design, distribution and traditional use
For the garage, Ricardo de Bastida decided to follow the eclectic pattern of the palace, although the original plans underwent several changes, especially in the supporting structure and in the interior, during the construction itself. The French influence can be seen in the tamed roof, with the characteristic zinc embouchures in the openings, and the red carriage for the facings.
In the ship of the building he used the eclectic resources of the main building: fluted pilasters imitating ashlar stone and recerches of openings articulated with mixtilinear moldings, which have a central corbel.
The slate of the French roof is currently replaced by asphalt fabric. This modification was forced to solve the humidity problem caused by poor maintenance of the slate roof. At present, as in the palace, this solution has caused damage to the building, degrading the roof and putting the structure of the building at risk.
For the building’s frame he used a mixed solution, thick load-bearing walls and reinforced concrete slab for the only floor of the house. The use of reinforced concrete was essential in order to have an open space that would facilitate both the turning of cars and their repair. The initial project was not conceived with a reinforced concrete frame but of wood, as can be seen in the plan of the first floor, which has a wooden pillar.
Layout and traditional use of the building
He called the building a garage, but in reality it was a mixed building because it also served as the chauffeur’s and mechanic’s living quarters. In this way, he articulated a building with two floors, the ground floor designed for the car and the workshop, and the first floor for the living quarters. He also attached a canopy with a fountain for cleaning the carriages on the right side façade. The canopy is no longer preserved today and only the fountain remains.
As mentioned above, the plans that we have do not coincide with what we see today because Bastida decided to alter the distribution as soon as the work began, eliminating a previous gallery that joined the rooms and adding more rooms.
Finally, the building was distributed as we see it today.
First floor: Arranged in three areas with a main entrance hall that leads to the staircase and through two side doors to the workshop and warehouse for one car (left), and a garage for two cars (right). The workshop was also used to make small repairs in the buildings of the estate and, at present, the garage stores numerous pieces of furniture coming from the disappeared chalets of Bilbao and Getxo.
The main staircase is made of chestnut wood and responds to an eye-catching design of Viennese modernism. The Viennese style is revealed in the design of the handrail, headboard and balusters with rectilinear forms and light incisions.
Upstairs: The second floor was reserved for a house that had access from the hall through the main staircase. Its current distribution is not the one initially thought, being modified on site by the definitely adopted. The first proposal was conceived with a large gallery that organized the distribution, giving way to the left to two bedrooms and a living room, and to the right to a bedroom, toilet and kitchen-dining room.
The work finally executed -which is what we see today- is articulated according to a central hall that leads to two areas: to the left with kitchen, toilet and two bedrooms (in recent years one of the bedrooms became a kitchenette) and to the right with the living room and two bedrooms (in recent years one of the two bedrooms became a living room). This arrangement provided an extra bedroom, a necessity that was certainly forced by the large number of children that families had at that time. The rooms, as they were destined to the service, do not have any ornamentation.