Gallery: Metropol Parasol: The World’s Largest Wooden Structure Opens i...

The innovative structure is made from bonded timber with a polyurethane coating.

Photo © Fernando Alda

Jurgen Mayer H. Architects goal with Metropol Parasol’s neutral tone was to help harmonize the stark contrast of the ultra-modern structure with the medieval surroundings of Seville. Stairways and storefronts sit below the wooden parasols, which form the largest wooden structure in the world. The innovative structure is made from bonded timber with a polyurethane coating.

The actual site was originally slated to become a parking garage, but after excavations revealed archeological findings, the city of Seville decided to make the site a museum and community center. Metropol Parasol now houses said museum, a farmers market, an elevated plaza, and a restaurant, most of which are open-air. The elevated rooftop promenades located on top of the parasols, offer visitors amazing views of the city.

Seville is a city with rich history and a unique medieval inner city. Metropol Parasol defines Seville’s iconic cultural role, meshing a historic archeological destination with a sleek contemporary landmark.

+ Jürgen Mayer H. Architects

Additional Photographs + Fernando Alda

Lead photo © Ignacio Ysasi


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  1. Carsten56 August 24, 2014 at 8:51 pm

    We were very fortunate to spend some time in Sevilla in 2013 and seeing the “Waffle” was one the highlights. A very unique and beautiful piece of design and engineering.

  2. Vance Whittall January 22, 2012 at 5:29 am

    Visited the Metropol this week with my wife. We were unable to visit any part of it as it was all closed (on a Saturday) which was disappointing. The area underneath looked a little bleak and not well-maintained, belying its ‘newness’ I thought it to be a very interesting and thoughtful structure in a ‘Gaudiesque’ kind of way, my wife thought that it was ‘a blot on the landscape’ though she enjoyed the thriving food market underneath !

  3. Josejacaranda January 10, 2012 at 6:22 pm


  4. mtbrider24 January 3, 2012 at 5:24 pm

    I visited the Parasol structure and underground museum in late May of 2011. Granted many of the museum displays were as yet incomplete but it was open to the public despite even the mass of protesters (an incident not isolated in Seville nor associated with the Parasol.) I won’t debate the politics as it is inevitable there will always be those who like and those who dislike…anything…period! The debate will rage on everywhere about how best to spend local monies to promote tourism. As a visitor, this is how I see it as something most locals will disregard but as something tourists will come and visit. IT GENERATES REVENUE both for the museum and for the city.

    As an Architect, I rather enjoyed being able to walk atop the Parasol and see the city from a different/ higher vantage point. Perhaps because I live in a mountainous region in the U.S.A., but I think it is true of a lot of people throughout the world. It was also a magnificent structure to photograph with regard to light, shade, and shadow. Not all of us are “typical privileged Americans who grew up in wealthy families…” as dr.floyd suggests. I agree with ahinalu and while I’m at it, both the base and lattice appear to be made of steel reinforced concrete, not wood. My limited knowledge of the structural properties of wood would lead me to believe the same light airy design would be nearly, if not entirely, impossible with said material.

    Furthermore; Lorraine, what makes you think “Africa” needs help? It is a big continent and from my experience, nearly every country in Africa suffers the same socioeconomic problems as every other country in the world. We can’t solve their problems by just giving them money/ housing. Doing so only exacerbates their problems. There are enough wealthy people in those countries that will not give to their own people…why should we? They were doing fine enough until “white man” moved in and messed everything up!

  5. nanoball June 20, 2011 at 9:08 pm

    Saw the Metropol Parasol in Sevilla last week; it did not appear to be finished. Protesters were squatting on it and there was a lot of graffiti. Also, signage is sparse and misleading. All in all it was a disappointing experience.

  6. patio deck April 30, 2011 at 2:27 am

    I am very impressed with the design. The shape is nice, and the public place it creates definitely is not something one encounters often. Thanks for the information.
    patio deck

  7. dr.floyd April 21, 2011 at 4:49 pm

    This is a work of genius. As another commentator noted not every gets Gaudi. How could they? This masterpiece is mind blowing. The people of Seville are lucky to have such a piece of artwork smack dab in their city. Bravo! Peter Justice is misinformed about the project which is typical of privileged Americans who grew up in wealthy families with no artistic taste. As we say down south, light it up!

  8. ahinalu April 18, 2011 at 12:28 pm

    Like many architectural buildings in Spain over the past 100 years or so, there’s controversy. Many people didn’t and still don’t like Gaudi’s work, or the Guggenheim I’m sure people were complaining about all the construction all those centuries La Alhambra was being built.

    The beauty of art is the emotions it invokes, and when it’s architecture, it brings out a lot of emotions since it’s not sitting in a museum somewhere but it’s in our faces.

    I think it’s structures like this that keeps Spain from stagnating and keeps tourists dreaming of going there (or going back again).

    @peter justice: as the son of a Spaniard (mother was born in Bilbao, my family is from Burgos and Bermeo)…I sure hope you’re not American because if you are calling Spaniards lazy would be like a slug calling a horse slow.

  9. komar April 15, 2011 at 2:23 pm

    Achtungdani and Lorraine J have said it all … nothing to add. Sorry folks but I dont like it.

  10. Randolph Langenbach April 15, 2011 at 12:19 pm

    I am very impressed with the design of the Metropol Parasol, but I feel it important to point out before it becomes too embarrassing that it is not even close to being the World’s Largest Wooden Structure. From my research, that title is indisputably held by the 7 surviving World War II vintage airdocks in the United States, which were constructed to house airships during the war when steel was in short supply. If you type “Moffett Federal Air Field, Mountain View, California” into Google Earth or Google Maps, you can see them. Two of the seven currently extant airdocks are on the right. They measure in plan 340 meters by 115 meters (approx. 100 M for the wooden part of the structure), which would mean that two, if not four Metropol Parasols in their entirety as measured using the same tool could fit in them. The Parasols are larger than the other oft-stated “largest wooden structure” – the Daibutsu-den of the Todaiji Temple in Japan. For a paper on this subject, see:

  11. andvaranaut April 15, 2011 at 3:49 am

    Hi all.

    @Lorraine J: While I can sympathize somewhat with the “homes in Africa” appeal, it’s really kind of a non-argument IMHO – any ‘landmark’ project could probably be completed for half the final budget by cutting corners and the other half of the money could be destined to refugees… But then you probably wouldn’t have that much of a ‘landmark’. The story of the place is complex and the functionality of MP is too – it serves as an ‘architectural sculpture’, as a touristic attraction point, as a multifunctional space (the elevated plaza can be used for concerts and such), as a market, as a museum, and as an observation walkway, and has also renovated all its urban environment – there is more to it than ‘ego polishing’ (which is also part of the equation, I won’t deny that :) ). Whenever you try building something really unique it’s almost miraculous not to have massive cost overruns; not that it’s something to be proud of, but it’s a fact of life. So it’s better to wait and see whether the structure works as a revitalizing hub before deciding. Nearby bars, businesses and the market sellers have already seen a strong increase in sales, and that’s even before the museum and walkway were open.

    And, besides, long & bureaucratic story short, MP has not been paid for by taxpayer money, which means that the money spent on its construction could only be used for very specific purposes (ringroads in the city – check; villages in Africa – not really).

    @achtungdani, I’m sorry if I came across as too harsh. I have been thinking about what you said and I think I know where it comes from. I still stand by my comment that saying the structure is steel&concrete is rather inaccurate, but it is not 100% inaccurate (perhaps 90% 😉 ). There is a part which is indeed a steel ‘matrix’ which is covered with wood panels – the ‘arch’ which goes to the last parasol: . However, I estimate it represents about 10% of the surface area (and much less by volume), and it is supported by the wooden structure at either end. All the rest is wood. If you are interested in constructive details I suggest you check the Sevilla21 forums, which have been following the building process with keen interest.

    With regards to the building lease, it’s a stop gap solution until a new building is ready (I don’t think the original plan to use the Gavidia sq. building for that is that smart, but who knows). The building itself has always been a part of the ‘package’, along with the lease of Metropol itself, to have Sacyr contribute the 20 M€ it has paid. So the problem is not so much the deal with Sacyr as the failure of the local government to have another building ready on time – even if the lease wasn’t paid to Sacyr, it would have to be paid to somebody else.


  12. achtungdani April 15, 2011 at 2:31 am

    Dear Andvaranaut, I admit I can be wrong, but a friend of mine, also an architect, has worked calculating the steel structure that supports the wood “packaging”, that´s how I know that the structure is not made of wood. She told me that the first idea was to build the structure out of wood, but they realized it wasn´t possible, so they changed to steel.

    Concerning the lease of the complex by Sacyr, this is not accurate. The Town Hall had a building in the square. It has given it to Sacyr, as part of the wage. The Town Hall, before the crisis, planned to build another building in another place, but now they have no money, so they will remain in this building, paying Sacyr a lease that will cost much money every month to all of us, so I doubt the deal is so positive for the people of Seville.

  13. Lorraine J April 14, 2011 at 3:44 pm

    Wow, Andvaranaut, great comprehensive response! Whilst I can see the artistic merit and tourism potential, I find difficulty acepting such complexity and expense being necessary for its function. What I’m trying to say is, if it were half that size it would still polish some egos and the other half could be used to build homes for the refugees in Africa. Just a thought. :) Be and go well, Lorraine J

  14. andvaranaut April 14, 2011 at 2:34 pm

    Another thing: the structure is indeed very optimized, it took a few teams of engineers quite a bit of time to come up with the final distribution of wood pieces… Each ‘pixel’ is about 1.5m side, and the width of the wood pieces varies, but is about 10-15 cm. So the vast majority of the space the structure occupies is open air instead of wood. The ‘waffle’ won’t be that good a shelter against rain, of course, but I can vouch for it being stellar against sunrays!

  15. andvaranaut April 14, 2011 at 2:20 pm

    With regards to the ecological values of the wood, it has been provided by Finnforest (Kerto-Q) and, if I’m not mistaken, it is grown in certified forests, so I suppose it does qualify as “non-evil”. For completeness, however, it must be noted that the structural unions use a special kind of glue (and plain old nuts&bolts), and the wood is dipped in polyurethane – I’m not sure how “green” these processes are. (I actually had this answer written weeks ago, but the authentication system here ate it and I was too lazy to retype 😉 In fact it has just done it again… but I have been smart enough to copy it to the clipboard this time – live and learn).

    And achtungdani’s information is not really accurate. The concrete and steel part is just the support and the platform of the restaurant (easy to see in Google Maps right now: ). All the rest of the structure is made of wood, which not only covers the above structure, but also supports the overhead walkway. In the map I link to it’s easy to make out the concrete “stumps” which support the other 4 parasols – every other thing is wood. In fact, massive scaffolding has been needed to support the structure until the wooden ‘puzzle’ was complete and the structure became self-supporting.

    The scale & place considerations are a matter of taste. I love it there, and it will provide a much needed attraction point to a part of the historical centre which is routinely neglected by tourists. But hey, to each his own. With regards to money, it has been costly indeed (about 90 M€, of which 20 M€ has been paid by Sacyr in exchange for a 40-year lease of the complex) but I’m sure that the returns will soon make the cost seem not that exorbitant.


  16. achtungdani April 14, 2011 at 11:57 am

    I am a lazy spaniard architect who would like to add some information to your comments. The structure is not made of wood, as the article says, but of concrete and steel. Wood is just the exterior packaging of the whole thing. Personally I don´t like this project very much: it is completely out of scale and place, and has costed too much money. But this was a political choice, and we know how intelligent our politicians are…

  17. suitaloon April 1, 2011 at 10:10 am

    Lorraine jenks asks the first intelligent question in this discussion: The shape is nice, and the public place it creates definitely is not something one encounters often. But I’m sceptical about the mass optimisation of the wood structure in respect to the form. i mean, Jurgen Mayer is definitely not to be compared to Buckminster Fuller, but I see a lot of wood ( a material that is not often as eco friendly as one would think)for little shelter.

  18. Lorraine Jenks March 31, 2011 at 11:26 pm

    How eco friendly is this structure? Where was the wood sourced and how toxic are the bonding agents?

  19. MARIO 1972 March 31, 2011 at 2:47 am

    As my mates have already said the works are almost finished. In relation with “spanish lazyness” is just a kind of weird and no sense expression that doesn,t fit at all. I would really like to encourage you to come to Seville as soon as posible just to judge yourself this new Seville architectonic atraction. I think it´s worth visiting next summer!!!

  20. Carax March 30, 2011 at 3:44 pm

    For PeterJustice: you say that the project will need two more years to be finished, due to budget constraints and “spanish lazyness”. That is completely false, it is almost finished and only some finals details remain (in at most one month it will be finished). Everything is already open to the public.

    Here the only lazyness seems to be in your brain.

  21. Zoiber March 30, 2011 at 3:25 pm

    Hi all,

    PeterJustice does not appear to be really informed. If you visit right now Seville you can fully enjoy the two first overground levels. It is right that the Underground Museum and the SkyWalk over “umbrellas” are still in work, but just for several weeks, not for two years!!

  22. andvaranaut March 30, 2011 at 3:03 pm

    Please, don’t spread misinformation.

    The estimated time until completion is about two MONTHS at most, not years. In fact, it is slated to be in full force for Palm Sunday, which is about a month away. And, by the way, the huge elevated plaza in which most of the ‘fungi’ rest was indeed open to the public – and is still, thank you very much. So saying that there is (was?) nothing to “open” is either misleading or outright malicious. There is still minor work to do (as in, replace some broken tiles, some painting, general cleaning) but nothing avoiding public access to the site.

    The museum is scheduled to be open within one or two weeks (mid April). The works were completed about a month ago, and the installation of the museum resources is more or less finished. But they’ll probably wait until the Carambolo Treasure (an important, and not often shown, archaeologic discovery near Seville) is ready for exhibition, since the Mayor promised that the Carambolo would be shown in the museum upon opening. The elevated walkway, which is also finished, will probably be open around the same time, once the last few painting retouches are done and lighting is installed. Again, Palm Sunday will probably be the day to judge the degree of completeness of the project.

    With regards to the criticism, there has been no significant criticism of the “unopen” status of the project since, well, the plaza was indeed open. The main criticism aimed at the project is due to delays and cost increases, which is (sadly) a staple of landmark projects almost everywhere in the world. (Nearby case in point: The City of Arts and Sciences in Valencia, a breathtaking project which was to cost €200m and which is now at €1.3bn and counting). Besides, the public perception of the project, which used to be rather mixed, is now quickly becoming positive.

    I won’t comment upon the “Spanish lazyness” gem since it pretty much defines itself (way to go, dude). But next time please try to at least talk about something you know about…

  23. PeterJustice March 29, 2011 at 9:28 am

    To be precise and true to the events, this place is not really open to the public, they just made a political event yesterday as today is last LEGAL day for politicians to “open new infraestructures” and “announce” new social and civil projects before local elections in may 23th.

    In fact they estimate it will be necessary two more years to finish the project because of budget constrains, and, lets, say, spanish lazyness…

    The “opening” of this place has been followed with lots of criticism by the press and the in the opposition parties as there’s really nothing to “open” to the citizens…

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