We take a visit to this triumphant installation in 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.
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.
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 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.
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.
Other Architecture Posts
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 conviction of Rafael de La-Hoz Arderius and Gerardo Olivares to build a minimalist sculpture of steel, glass and travertine on an urban scale.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Other Art and Sculpture Posts
How artists and designers are using metals today and how long this apparently modern trend has been going on for.
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.
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.
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.
Richard Storer-Adam takes us on a trip to visit, admire and understand this ethereal and haunting Viking sculpture in polished stainless steel.
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.
A poem by Richard Storer-Adam on the agony of the late night designing process for an architect.