The placement of the trunk-like columns was dictated by the Roman ruins, with the result that a complex roof construction was required to bridge the irregular intervening spaces. The spectacular form Mayer H. came up with was designed with the help of engineering firm Arup and using the very latest parametric design software. For the realization, however, the Berlin architects opted for a low-tech material, namely wood, albeit a very sophisticated manifestation of this traditional material.
The vast structure consists of an orthogonal grid of laminated panels and beams of certified timber with a polyurethane coating that protects the building against the elements, thereby making a traditional roof unnecessary and allowing the bulging facade to flow seamlessly into an undulating, walkable roof. The latter can be reached via lifts and stairs in the vertical 'trunks'. The structure also houses a market, shops and a concert/event podium.
Once again, wood has proven itself to be an attractive alternative to brick or concrete. The design freedom it offers architects often gives rise to innovative structures, and that is certainly the case with Metropol Parasol. The structure's 3400-odd elements were joined using a high-performance epoxy resin adhesive, making this eye-catching addition to the Seville streetscape the world's biggest building to be held together by glue. (Kim Hoefnagels)