Metropol Parasol – Plaza de la Encarnación, Seville (2011)
The Metropol Parasol and plaza is a contemporary urban space with a unique four-story concrete, timber and steel structure comprising of six interlinked waffle-like “parasols” (similar in form to giant conjoined mushrooms and hence locally nicknamed “Las setas”).
Touted as the world’s largest timber structure, and fitting together like an oversized 3-D jigsaw puzzle, it encapsulates a farmers market, open plaza, bars and restaurants all overlying an ancient Roman site, now an archaeological museum. A 360° panoramic view of the old medieval inner city of Seville is afforded from vantage points along an elevated walkway situated on top of the undulating parasols.
I was captured by its radical and innovatively-engineered interlocked timber construction making the parasols stand out as a landmark that has imaginatively utilised the elements of art and sculpture in its architectural design to redefine the relationship between heavy block-like historical buildings and a more open multifunctional contemporary city (a relationship that is admired or reviled by the locals). As a result Metropol Parasol has received a number of awards, and most recently was a finalist in the 2013 European Union Prize for Contemporary Architecture – the Mies van der Rohe Award.