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Commonly known as Las Setas de la Encarnación (Encarnación’s mushrooms), the Metropol Parasol is the largest wooden structure in the world, measuring 150 by 70 meters and an aproximate height of 26 meters.
The designer, Jürgen Mayer-Hermann, got his inspiration from the vaults of Cathedral of Seville and the ficus trees in the nearby Plaza de Cristo de Burgos. The main purpose of the building is to become an icon for the city of Seville and create an urban center by redeveloping the Plaza de la Encarnacíon in Seville. The structure consists of six parasols resembling giant mushrooms; made out of a dense fabric of organically woven and undulating panels, they stand out because of their unusual appearance which comes in contrast with the surrounding traditional urban fabric. Probably one of the few modern buildings in the area, it is certainly a landmark and a point of gathering. Most modern designs inserted in a medieval city tend to ruin its quality and its charm. They feel like they don’t belong and for the area to reach its maximum potential, the modern structure should be removed. However, things are different with Metropol Parasol. Even if its shape and overall appearance have nothing to do with the rest of the area, it doesn’t feel like it disrupts anything. It’s sort of neutral. And the pre-exisitng urban fabric acts as a background for the new neighbour. The main feature that makes it harmless for the old city is its materiality. Wood, apart from glass or shiny metals doesn’t contrast so much with the medieval fabric, probably because of its color and the way we relate to it. Other modern building materials are worlds apart from the way things used to be built in the past.
Construction began on June 26, 2005 with a completion date in June of 2007. However, the project faced difficulties and not everything went as planned so it opened in April 2011. With the occasion, the architects released some details about their project:
„April 2011 marks the completion of “Metropol Parasol”, the Redevelopment of the Plaza de la Encarnacíon in Seville. Designed by J. MAYER H. architects, this project has already become the new landmark for Seville, – a place of identification and to articulate Seville’s role as one of the world´s most fascinating cultural destinations. “Metropol Parasol” explores the potential of the Plaza de la Encarnacion to become the new contemporary urban centre. Its role as a unique urban space within the dense fabric of the medieval inner city of Seville allows for a great variety of activities such as memory, leisure and commerce. A highly developed infrastructure helps to activate the square, making it an attractive destination for tourists and locals alike.
The “Metropol Parasol” scheme with its impressive timber structures offers an archaeological museum, a farmers market, an elevated plaza, multiple bars and restaurants underneath and inside the parasols, as well as a panorama terrace on the very top of the parasols. Realized as one of the largest and most innovative bonded timber-constructions with a polyurethane coating, the parasols grow out of the archaeological excavation site into a contemporary landmark, defining a unique relationship between the historical and the contemporary city. “Metropol Parasols” mix-used character initiates a dynamic development for culture and commerce in the heart of Seville and beyond.”
I believe that there are two things that make this project amazing: its size and its design. Both are equally impressive and put together, they help fulfill the buildings purpose, reviving a part of the city of Seville, because of the impact the building has on its surroundings.
Photo courtesy to J. Mayer H. Architects
Location :Seville, Spain
International Competition: 1. Prize, 2004
Opening: March 27th 2011
Completion: April 2011
Client: Ayuntamiento de Sevilla and SACYR
Architects: J. Mayer H. Architects
Management: Sacyr Vallehermoso
Main contractor :Sacyr Vallehermoso
Technical Consultant and Multidisciplinary Engineers for Realization: Arup
Timber Construction Company: Finnforest-Merk GmbH, Aichach