J. Mayer H. Architects
Some 90 feet high and nearly 500 feet long, the billowing timber pavilion is part pergola, part urban parlor. Viewing platforms are perched atop the organic forms, which also shelter restaurants and an archaeological museum.
From the 19th century a market was located in the plaza, housed in a dedicated building. The building was partially demolished in 1948 in accordance with plans for urban renewal. The market itself remained, however, until 1973, when the rest of the dilapidated building was finally demolished. The land remained dormant until 1990, when the city decided to construct underground parking with space for a market on top. However, in the midst of construction, ruins dating to the Roman and Al-Andalus eras were discovered, and construction was frozen after an expenditure of 14 million euros. In 2004, the city decided to attempt to develop the area again, and opened an international competition to solicit bids.
Setas de Sevilla (“Mushrooms of Seville”) or Las Setas (“The Mushrooms”), initially titled Metropol Parasol,[a] is a wooden structure located at La Encarnación square in the old quarter of Seville, Spain. It was designed by the German architect Jürgen Mayer and completed in April 2011.It has dimensions of 150 by 70 metres (490 by 230 ft) and an approximate height of 26 metres (85 ft) and claims to be the largest wooden structure in the world.Its appearance, location, delays and cost overruns in construction resulted in much public controversy.
“Setas de Sevilla” has been the project’s official name since opening. The name “Setas” started as a nickname amongst locals.The municipality switched to that name after finding out that the project’s architect had registered the rights to the name “Metropol Parasol” and would charge for its use.
The name “Las Setas de la Encarnación” is also used.
The Metropol Parasol with its large parasol structures offers an archeological museum, a farmers market, an elevated plaza, multiple bars and restaurants both beneath and inside the parasols, as well as a panorama terrace on the very top. The parasols rise from the museum into a contemporary landmark.
Movement is a keyword when describing J MAYER H.’s Metropol Parasol: its undulating curves suggest movement — they provide an image of movement. Yet the structure also encourages the movement of people visiting the site. This is indeed civic architecture, a structure that promotes action and interaction.
Metropol Parasol, known also as Las Setas de Sevilla, basically became one of the symbols of Seville. It’s so unique, so easily distinguishable, that it makes it a must-see for every tourist visiting this magnificent city.
Las Setas De Sevilla is open all week, from Sunday to Thursday, from 9:30 to 23:00, and from Friday to Saturday – 9:30 till 23:30. Metropol Parasol is also open during holidays.
When archeological remains of Roman mosaics and building structures, as well as early Christian ruins, were uncovered it was however decided to stage an international competition for the future development of the square. This was won in the summer of 2004 by Jürgen Mayer H. and his Berlin-based office J MAYER H.
Metropol Parasol integrates the various historical layers and urban functions of the site. The archaeological excavations and ruins can be visited and contemplated beneath street level. The ground floor retains the commercial activities of the market with facilities for shopping. Curving handrails and broad flights of steps lead to a large platform housing cafés, which may first and foremost be appropriated by the citizens for all sorts of activities and events — concerts, public meetings, and gatherings — or simply for strolling around, meeting friends, and enjoying a bit of shadow amid the hot Spanish summer. The shading canopy rests on six cylindrical columns or ‘trunks’. These, as well as the foundations, are made of reinforced concrete. Lifts provide access to the upper amorphously shaped level where one finds a large restaurant and a 250-meter-long walkway with breathtaking views of the inner city.The canopy is constructed of vertical laminated wood plates following a 1.5-by-1.5-meter cutting pattern. The assembled plates thus form a grid structure — a grillage. For safety reasons, the restaurant is situated on a composite steel platform. The wood plates have been sprayed with a polyurethane coating and painted in an ivory white shade that visually brings the individual pieces together. It also results in a peculiar effect: the structure appears simultaneously as a built-at-scale construction as well as an oversized model. This ambiguity between form, image, and structure is further emphasized by the fact that the construction has not been covered but is laid bare; this accentuates the contrast between the repetitive pattern of the grid and the winding shape of the canopy.
The structure forms a new gathering point in Seville: a place for interaction, in which ancient is connected with the present, the earth with the sky. The grid structure, extensively used by the Romans for urban layouts, is here transformed and contrasted by the curving shapes of the canopy. Further movement is suggested between points, lines, and surfaces — from the nodes formed by the ‘trunks’ to the meandering outline of the canopy, to the imaginary surfaces created by the grillage — a play between what is revealed and what is not, between virtual and actual.
Among the world’s largest bonded timber constructions, the Metropol Parasol has grown into an impressive contemporary landmark within the Medieval inner city of Seville. A red dot winner, this timber structure is made of 3,400 individual Kerto laminated veneer lumber (LVL) elements and 3,000 load-bearing connection nodes.
Construction began on June 26, 2005, with an estimated cost of 50 million euros and a projected completion date in June 2007. However, unknown to the public, the project soon faced difficulties. By May 2007 engineering firm Arup informed the municipal authorities that the structure was technically unfeasible as designed, given that a number of structural assumptions had not been tested and the design appeared to violate the limitations of known materials. The wood used was birch, imported from Finland, because of its straight qualities.Much time was spent developing feasible alternative plans to buttress the structure, which themselves proved impractical because of the added weight. A feasible design using glue as reinforcement was finally settled on only at the beginning of 2009. By some estimates, due to delays, the total cost of the structure approached 100 million euros.
The destruction of the Mercado de la Encarnacion in Seville left a huge void in the urban character of the city center which remained unfilled for over thirty years. The market enriched the city with life, and with its absence, the vitality of the Plaza de la Encarnacion was soon challenged by the negative implications of economic downturn. In April of 2011, Jürgen Mayer Hand Arup teamed to complete their solution for Seville’s central square – an architecture that brings a contemporary spirit to such a historical and traditional space. Entitled Metropol Parasol, the massive timber structure (which is one of the largest timber structures built in the world) draws residents and visitors back to the city center as its striking aesthetic provides a variety of markets and restaurants bounded by the dynamic shape of the parasols. We enjoyed the video as it illustrates the impact architecture can bring economically and socially to enrich even one of the most established city centers in the world. The ability for the design team to look toward the future allows Seville to preserve its historic cultural prowress while not limiting itself for future greatness.
Metropol Parasol is one of the largest projects completed so far by J. MAYER H. Breaking boundaries through the design of elaborate forms is nothing new to the office, as witnessed by projects such as the Danfoss Universe (2007), DUPLI CASA (2008), and the Mensa Karlsruhe (2006) — the latter project featuring an earlier version of some of the innovative construction principles developed for the Metropol Parasol. Compared to these projects, Metropol Parasol features a new complexity, not least regarding the interweaving of the site’s historical and functional layers and the intersections of programming that the project advances.
Drawing on various references and supporting a multitude of interpretations, Metropol Parasol playfully enters the city tissue as a bold new creature. To some it may appear as a grove of trees, thereby referring to the actual trees on the square and paraphrasing their shading capacities. This interchange between human bodies and ‘objects’ has previously been investigated by Jürgen Mayer in projects such as Wheater. House (1994) and heat.seat (2001). Others would imagine this group of six grounded volumes as mushrooms or as a giant cloud; references to nature inevitably spring into mind. We could also locate parallels to the Gothic architecture of Seville, in particular the Catedral de Santa Maria de la Sede and its tall, tree-like columns.
The award-winning design for Metropol Parasol was developed by architect Jürgen Mayer H and Arup.
A WORD FROM THE ARCHITECT Metropol Parasol is Seville’s new iconic project – an attraction that showcases the city as one of Spain’s most fascinating cultural destinations. Metropol Parasol has ‘revitalised’ 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 history, leisure and commerce. Its highly developed infrastructure has fashioned the square into an attractive destination for tourists and locals alike. The Metropol Parasol with its large parasol structures offers an archeological museum, a farmers market, an elevated plaza, multiple bars and restaurants both beneath and inside the parasols, as well as a panorama terrace on the very top. The parasols rise from the museum into a contemporary landmark. Its columns are prominent points of access to the museum below as well as to the plaza and panorama deck above, defining a unique relationship between the historical and contemporary city.
Metropol Parasols character initiates a dynamic development for culture and commerce in the heart of Seville. METSÄ WOOD Metropol Parasol is approximately 50 m long, 75 m wide and 28 m high. The elements are glued Kerto-Q LVL, which are arranged in an orthogonal grid of 1.5 m x 1.50 m. Only Kerto is able to be used in large and complex structures such as the Metropol Parasol due to its excellent strength-to-weight ratio. Kerto is incredible strong yet light building material.. Over 3,000 different Kerto wood elements were manufactured at Metsä Wood’s building component factory in Aichach, Germany, comprising a total volume of approximately 2,500 m³ of parallel laminated veneer lumber (LVL). The wooden structure is covered by 2-c-polyurethan to protect the elements against the weather. Integral planning and the intense electronic exchange of data between all parties in the planning process were essential elements for the development and construction of Metropol Parasol. The data of the architectural model were directly integrated into the programs of the structural designers, engineers and the construction company. The perfectly coordinated teamwork between Metsä Wood, the architects Jürgen Mayer H. and the engineers of ARUP gave this unique project its extraordinary character. Metropol Parasol was opened in spring 2011.
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