Metropol Parasol, part of the redevelopment of Plaza de la Encarnacion, Seville, Spain

We take a visit to this triumphant installation in Seville.

Seville

Seville is one of my very favourite cities in Spain, with some of the very best local food and wine to be found anywhere in Andalusia. Seville is a traditional stopping off point for travellers on their way to Portugal. Seville is an intimate but vibrant city with a population close to 700,000. The city is famous for it’s searingly hot in summers with average June/July temperatures being around 35-38 Centigrade. On a hot day 40 centigrade plus is not unknown.

Metropol Parasol - Redevelopment of Plaza de la Encarnacion, Seville, Spain

Metropol Parasol - Redevelopment of Plaza de la Encarnacion, Seville, Spain

Luckily over the 2200 years since Seville was founded, the Sevillianos have built many beautiful shady squares around the city, somewhere to enjoy a tapas, a cold beer or a tall glass of chilled, pale sherry (I recommend a Fino), shade during the day being provided by the large leafy ficus trees that frequently grow around the squares. The same ficus that most of us in northern Europe only experience as a fairly sad plant pot stuck in the corner of the office or the bedroom.

Jurgen Mayer-Hermann

In 2004 the city of Seville commissioned the Berlin based German architect and artist, Jurgen Mayer-Hermann to design one of the largest bonded wooden structures in the world (150m x 75m x 28m). The structure was to be built on the site of an old open air market, in Plaza de la Encarnacion, which was in a state of dilapidation.

Jurgen took his inspiration from the ficus trees that abound in the city. His intention was to develop a mixed use, multi level space that would be comfortable on a hot summers day and a location where tourists and the locals could mix. Somewhere to be outside, away from the sun.

Arup were appointed as consultant engineers and construction was by the Madrid based Sacyr Vallehermoso.

The initial budget for design and construction was indicated to be around 52 million Euros but as is common with these difficult one off type of projects, the final budget shot up closer to 86 million euros.

After completion in 2011, the light and airy space containing bars, restaurants, archaeological museum and a farmers market appeared, giving Seville a heart stopping, surprising urban development, that beautifully showcases Spanish culture and commerce, very close to the centre of Seville and bringing back life and vibrancy to the area.

The Spanish locals quickly took the structure to their hearts, naming it locally “Las Setas” or the mushrooms

The detailed timber construction of the Metropol Parasol, Seville, Spain

The detailed timber construction of the Metropol Parasol, Seville, Spain

Structure

The structure is manufactured out of a glued Kerto- Q LVL material which is arranged to an orthogonal (right angels) grid of 1,50m x 1,50m. Over 3000 different wooden elements were manufactured at Metsä Wood building component factory in Aichach, Germany and in total 2500 m³ of the panel was produced to form an exceptional light weight and extremely strong building. The wooden structure is covered by a polyurethane coating, that will protect the bonded elements against sun and rain.

All the wood comes from sustainable northern forests, which being colder makes for slower growing trees and a stronger finished product.

The Metropol Parasol illuminated at night, Seville, Spain

The Metropol Parasol illuminated at night, Seville, Spain

A city landmark

In 2005, The Metropol Parasol won the third prize in the prestigious Holcim Foundation Award, for sustainable construction, with the jury saying:-

"This building is a genuine monument that stresses the importance of the marketplace in the city. It is an aesthetically pleasing response to the frequently criticised loss of public space,"

This is a wonderful space, you can climb to the top and on the walkways have a great views of this wonderful city, Metropal Parasol by Jurgen Mayer-Hermann

As Alfredo Mayor proudly stated on completion of the project, "With the patronage of the Seville City Council, the new Plaza de la Encarnacion has been converted into the contemporary urban centre of the city, a modern urban cathedral located within the largest historic centre of Europe. It is a space capable of offering a wide variety of cultural, recreational and economic options: an archaeological tour through the city’s ancient history, diverse leisure activities, an ideal location for encounters and commercial activity. And as a living space, a tourist destination, and a meeting place, it provides opportunities of identification and exchange for the city’s habitants."

I have to agree with that and I congratulate the city of producing such an outstanding landmark.

Here we look at every kind of architecture, often including steel and other metals of course, current and historical usually by famous and influential architects but sometimes by names that are surprisingly lesser known.

The Castelar Building, Madrid, Spain – a glass lantern floating above the Paseo de la Castellana - Double Stone Steel

The Castelar Building, Madrid, Spain – a glass lantern floating above the Paseo de la Castellana

The conviction of Rafael de La-Hoz Arderius and Gerardo Olivares to build a minimalist sculpture of steel, glass and travertine on an urban scale.

The story of how the Petersen Automotive Museum leapt into the 21st century with a futuristic steel exoskeleton design strongly influenced by car culture - Double Stone Steel

The story of how the Petersen Automotive Museum leapt into the 21st century with a futuristic steel exoskeleton design strongly influenced by car culture

Robin Fisher explores this building, located at the gateway of Los Angeles' famous Museum Row, extensively renovated through the work of Kohn Pedersen Fox and A.Zahner.

The US Steel Tower, a lasting beacon on the Pittsburgh skyline and legacy of Andrew Carnegie - Double Stone Steel

The US Steel Tower, a lasting beacon on the Pittsburgh skyline and legacy of Andrew Carnegie

Richard Storer-Adam reviews the design and construction of this 64-story skyscraper, built in the 1970’s with Cor-Ten steel, symbolising the triumph of the US Steel industry.

The design story of the Seagram Building, 375 Park Avenue, New York City, built in 1957 - Double Stone Steel

The design story of the Seagram Building, 375 Park Avenue, New York City, built in 1957

Richard Storer-Adam reviews the background and architecture of this iconic modernist glass and bronze tower by German-American architect Ludwig Mies Van der Rohe and American associate architect Philip Cortelyou Johnson.

An examination of the design theory behind Seattle Central Library by OMA - Double Stone Steel

An examination of the design theory behind Seattle Central Library by OMA

Antonio Moll reviews the first work by the Dutch Office in the USA, 16 years after its opening, considering what is probably the most disrupting piece of architecture of the 21st Century.

The Flatiron Building (originally the Fuller Building), designed by Daniel H. Burnham and built in 1902 - Double Stone Steel

The Flatiron Building (originally the Fuller Building), designed by Daniel H. Burnham and built in 1902

Richard Storer-Adam dwells on the genesis of NYC’s most iconic skyscraper and ‘quintessential symbol’ of Manhattan, New York City, New York, USA named after the Flatiron district.

How artists and designers are using metals today and how long this apparently modern trend has been going on for.

Richard Serra: Experiencing Steel and Architecture at Bilbao’s Guggenheim Museum, Spain - Double Stone Steel

Richard Serra: Experiencing Steel and Architecture at Bilbao’s Guggenheim Museum, Spain

Gracia Ramírez explains how Richard Serra´s Cor-ten steel sculptures revitalise the experience of the built environment through play with negative space and the counterbalancing of heavy-weight metal structures.

The gargantuan stainless steel memorial to the legendary Mongolian leader Genghis Khan - Double Stone Steel

The gargantuan stainless steel memorial to the legendary Mongolian leader Genghis Khan

Richard Storer-Adam gives an overview of the imposing statue built to commemorate the famous warrior and observes how the process of Physical Vapor Deposition has been incorporated into the design.

An overview of three families of works by Catalan sculptor Jaume Plensa, b.1955 - Double Stone Steel

An overview of three families of works by Catalan sculptor Jaume Plensa, b.1955

Antonio Moll reviews these pieces which, employing light, play with the representation of human heads and alphabetic letters and are created from steel, aluminium, wire mesh, glass and snow.

A journey to visit the The Sun Voyager sculpture by Jón Gunnar Árnason in Reykjavík, Iceland - Double Stone Steel

A journey to visit the The Sun Voyager sculpture by Jón Gunnar Árnason in Reykjavík, Iceland

Richard Storer-Adam takes us on a trip to visit, admire and understand this ethereal and haunting Viking sculpture in polished stainless steel.

Curtis Jere – the partnership between Curtis Freiler and Jerry Fels, creating art from a heavenly mix of metals - Double Stone Steel

Curtis Jere – the partnership between Curtis Freiler and Jerry Fels, creating art from a heavenly mix of metals

Richard Storer-Adam looks at some of the spectacular artworks and innovative techniques creating pieces which are still sought-after today as iconic mid-century modern art.

The Architect - Double Stone Steel

The Architect

A poem by Richard Storer-Adam on the agony of the late night designing process for an architect.