The wonder of a canopy – a selection of favourite structures from around the world

Where does the word "canopy" come from?

The word canopy comes from the latin word canopeum, which was a mosquito net, which in turns come from the ancient greek word, kanopeion. A kanopeion was a bed with netting to help keep out the mosquitos and flies - we still have four poster beds.

Usually a canopy is a cloth covering. Cloth canopies are still the most popular especially since the development of shade fabrics which have been used to roof airports from Saudi Arabia to China.

Canopies are extensively used today to provide protection from the elements whilst you are outdoors, for example, The Parasol Metropol in Seville is a fantastic modern canopy, made form a type of plywood, which was built specifically to provide shade during the day.

The Parasol Metropol in Seville designed by Jürgen Mayer-Hermann

The Parasol Metropol in Seville designed by Jürgen Mayer-Hermann

The Mesa Art Centre, Arizona

The 20,000 square meter, 95 million USD, Mesa Art Centre in Arizona is a great example of the architectural use of a canopies. The building is at 1 East Main Street Mesa, Arizona.

The complex was designed by Boora Architects of Portland, Oregon in associations with DWL Architects and Planners of Phoenix, Arizona with Martha Schwartz Inc. serving as landscape architect for the project.

The average temperate during the summer time in Mesa is 99 centigrade, so, a very hot place. The canopy gives some relief from this heat as well as adding a simple beautiful architectural element that plays with light.

 

Detail of the Stainless Steel Canopy, Mesa Art Centre, Arizona in polished 316 Stainless Steel and Glass.

Detail of the Stainless Steel Canopy, Mesa Art Centre, Arizona in polished 316 Stainless Steel and Glass.

Photograph by Martha Schwartz

The Vieux Port Pavilion, Marseilles

UK-based architects Foster and Partners designed another fantastic canopy in the port of Marseilles France. Marseilles was French city that was appointed as European Capital of Culture for 2013. The port of Marseille is a World Heritage-listed harbour.

The highly polished 316 stainless steel canopy is intentioned to reflect the actions of the crowds below as well as the day-to-day business of the port. The stainless steel canopy which measures 46 by 22 metres is open on all sides. The stainless steel canopy itself sits, or rather floats, on eight slender mirrored stainless steel columns. The roof of the structure is tapered towards the edges to give the impression of thinness. The whole thing looks like it is not meant to be there - like it will float away in the summer sun. Viewed from a distance the canopy appears as nothing more than a thin silver line on the horizon. Another great application of stainless steel in architecture by this award-winning British architectural practice.

The Vieux Port Pavilion, Marseilles – Photograph Nigel Young, Foster + Partners

The Vieux Port Pavilion, Marseilles – Photograph Nigel Young, Foster + Partners

Parisian canopies

Some of my own favourite canopies are to be found in the beautiful, romantic city of Paris. Tell me if you know anyone who does not love Paris. Anyway, back to the canopies.

The system was designed by M. Hector Guimard who was born in Lyon, France 1867 and died in New York, USA in 1942. Guimard’s design system was interchangeable and was based around cast iron and glass. The distincitve color was the verdigris.

Architect Jean Camille-Formigé and the engineer Louis Biette designed and built metro entrances all over Paris from around 1899 to 1905 using the system. It always impresses me how these simple structures don’t do much on their own. Yes, their canopies keep the rain out of the metro stain but that is about it. But take them all together and they are an icon, they define Paris, they add up to more than a whole. The canopies are light, open and inviting, just like their home city of Paris. The canopies were described by a contemporary critics at the time of their construction as ‘ Dragonfly’s wings’ and I agree with that statement. I can not conceive of Paris without Guimard’s beautiful, simple canopies.

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By Richard Storer-Adam
Managing Director of Double Stone Steel Ltd.

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 our use of metals and finishing processes features in design today and since prehistoric times.

The Mini - an iconic car with a design that is recognised around the world. - Double Stone Steel

The Mini - an iconic car with a design that is recognised around the world.

Considered the second most influential car of the 20th Century just after the Ford Model T the Mini is a British Pop-culture icon.

The story of Kem Weber (1889 – 1963), one of the proponents of Art Deco design and architecture in 1930s America - Double Stone Steel

The story of Kem Weber (1889 – 1963), one of the proponents of Art Deco design and architecture in 1930s America

Richard Storer-Adam recounts the work of this influential industrial designer, famous for his work with Walt Disney Studios, through two of his favourite products created in the style of Streamline Moderne.

How the simple industrial process of tube drawing allows for the production of precision quality pipe and tube - Double Stone Steel

How the simple industrial process of tube drawing allows for the production of precision quality pipe and tube

Richard Storer-Adam gives a brief history of two essential modern-day products - hypodermic needles and steel pipes - and the manufacturing technique that connects them.

A brief tutorial on the most luxurious stainless steel watches in the world - Double Stone Steel

A brief tutorial on the most luxurious stainless steel watches in the world

Richard Storer-Adam gives a brief tutorial on Rose and Rose Gold watches, watch straps, lugs and integrated wrist bands including the Rolex Glidelock system in 904L stainless steel.

A virtual tour of Oscar Niemeyer’s Museu de Arte Contemporânea de Niterói, Brazil - Double Stone Steel

A virtual tour of Oscar Niemeyer’s Museu de Arte Contemporânea de Niterói, Brazil

An appreciative and honest critique of this dramatic architectural work - Lola Adeokun shares her experiences and feelings whilst visiting Niemeyer’s museum of art in Rio de Janeiro.

A study of the major design influencer Jean Prouvé - Double Stone Steel

A study of the major design influencer Jean Prouvé

Richard Storer-Adam gives an overview of the life of an iconic mid-century designer whose background as a blacksmith and empathy with metal fabrication played out in his work ranging from furniture, such as the famous Standard SP chair, to pre-fabricated buildings.