Before visiting Seville, the first thing that came to my mind when thinking about it was flamenco and its historic and cultural importance in the Andalusia region. I pictured Seville as a landmark for typical Andalusian architecture, a city full of old buildings and old traditions still proudly kept alive by the locals. My expectations and idea of Seville wasn’t completely wrong, but whilst walking in the charming little streets of the historical centre, we came across something completely unexpected that we both weren’t aware of and that blew my mind.
Who Knew About This Urban Landscape?
To start with I couldn’t quite understand exactly what I was staring at, at the beginning it simply looked to me like a giant honeycomb floating in the air. This stunning modern result of great architecture we were lucky enough to see is the famous Metropol Parasol – also known as “Las setas” – named after the typical Spanish mushrooms. In fact, its shape does remind me of big-scale mushrooms too.
I have to admit at first sight it was quite weird to see such structure surrounded by old and less weird, more regular shaped buildings, but the more I looked at it the more I realized that the contrast between the Metropol Parasol and its classic neighborhoods was what I liked the most about it.
I can see how some people might think that a structure with such innovative and unusual architecture like the Metropol Parasol should be located in a different area, perhaps with similar cutting edge buildings surrounding it so as to maintain and preserve the original classic architecture of its current location. In my opinion it’s the result from the mixture between old and new that makes the Metropol Parasol an unique urban landmark, something special to look for whilst in Seville.
Originally the space where the Metropol Parasol now stands was allocated to be an underground carpark of which the construction was interrupted because a collection of Roman remains were found. It was then that the idea of the Parasol was presented and finally realized.
It is fascinating how such a structure – which apparently is the largest wooden one in the world – embraces a bit of everything, from the ruins exposed in the underground museum, to the market area, a space for performances, a restaurant, and also a sky deck from where it’s possible to have a nice glimpse of the city. Also it provides great shade for the hot and sticky summer days when the temperature raises enormously.
I personally see the Metropol Parasol as a great place for locals and visitors to Seville to meet up and socialize which is what squares were typically used for in past times anyway. The Parasol also makes for a great place to organize events for the local community and also to attract the many visitors that every day arrive in Seville.
I particularly enjoyed observing the waffle-looking roof, catching a glimpse of the blue sky and the sunlight coming through it creating nice shadows. The only regret I have is not having seen the Metropol Parasol at dusk, when the light gets particularly nice and everything seems slightly different and charming, I’m pretty sure I would have loved the Parasol even more.
An Array of Past, Present and Future
I congratulate J. MAYER H. Architects for designing and realizing this waffle-looking Parasol which in my view completely fulfills the original idea, its purpose, and gives to Seville something new and fresh to be remembered for.
If you are in Seville and you have time on your side, we strongly recommend that you visit this place, perhaps taking a book with you to read in the shade or to simply walk through the Parasol to enjoy its unique architecture
Do you like the contrast of new and old architecture?