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Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Parasol Progress?

Back in April last year I posted progress photos of J. Mayer H.'s Metropol Parasol, a project I'd previously featured as a half dose in early 2006. The progress in a few short months was impressive, with poured concrete columns receiving a steel-strucutured slab raised from ground level apparently assembled on site.

March 31, 2007

But six months after raising the slab into place, the progress seems, well, almost imperceptible. Sure, the cranes have been removed, and some bracing is in place, but that hardly seems like six months work. At this rate, the project will be many years before completion.

Metropol Parasol
October 28, 2007

Anybody know what's going on with this project? Is it on hold due to the usual circumstances, a lack of funds? Is it being redesigned? Scaled down? Are these images merely a mock-up or test for the real deal? Is the majority of ongoing construction out of sight?

Most of the discussion on the project online is in Spanish, so I'm in the dark as to what's happening with it, though this page indicates some progress on site work. Please leave a comment if you've got something to share.


  1. Dearest John, let me throw some light here...

    Despite the fact that I completely abhor the project (there were many others much better in the competition), the building is being built.

    The market is going to be over a roman historical site whose remains will be left in the basement after the work is finished, so the two towers start at basement -1 level. When the steel platform was risen there was nothing built above basement.

    Now the basement is almost completely covered (with a disgusting and poorly conceived steel and concrete structure) and the roof of the market at gound level wich at the same time serves as a public awful plaza is almost ready.

    The project got the Holcim Award for sustainability long before being built (a concrete company awards a huge concrete building...nice). If you look carefully, I doubt you can get any likenesses between the competition design, or even the project images and the work in progress.

    I sincerely hope to be proven wrong and to finally enjoy a nice contemporary building in our otherwise Disneyfied Historic Center.

    Thanks for your commitment,

    Miguel Villegas, architect.

  2. Miguel, Thank you very much for sharing both the information and your opinion. The winning scheme seems to receive both strong like and dislike, but not too much in-between, perhaps owing to its ambitious, though highly obtrusive design.

    I would be in agreement about the disparity between the renderings and the current state of construction. Of course that all could change once the "skin" is added to the raised structures.

    Given the design, it looks like most of the attention has been given to the parasol and not the plaza, somewhat unfortunate given the large area of the site and the potential harshness of an empty, hard surface.

    Lastly, the relationship between sustainability and lots and lots of concrete does not seem to jibe with my thinking of the former. Given the other materials (steel and maybe wood, I'm guessing) that go into the parasol, I'm a bit confused as to how it received an award for sustainability, unless it's related to the social program more than the design.

    Regardless, I'm still impressed with the design, though I'm also an ocean away.

  3. Just read the comments in spanish... at first they were confident to finish the construction by december, now they are considering in will be finished by spring 2008.
    For what I see, the hard structural construction is over, but finishes do take a lot of time!

    A very good proyect for a run down area of the city!

  4. Hey, very interesting blog. Thought you might be interested in mine, as well, same subject (mostly), same city...

  5. Just heard the major talking about the project. They expect to finish it by the end of 2009.

    John: The social programe is completely non-existent. Roman remains on the basement, a market (that was formerly just besides this place) at ground level and a public botellón-square and a couple of hype-to-be restaurants on the roof.

    Don't you think that the main difference with the renderings lays on the structural system? I guessed from the drawings that the reticular ribs you could see would be the structural system (and even so it seemed very poor), but now I see the concrete humongous columns and the humble concrete-steel floors and I don't know what could be worse...

    To primocordara: The project seems to have 6 "mushrooms", but at the moment you can see only two of them so the structure is nothing like near completion...

  6. Miguel, it seems that there's only two mushrooms that are going to have facilities and need the concrete cores. The other ones look like they only have walkways. You can tell from the elevations and plan on the thread that John linked.

  7. Yes, the whole structural concept is abandoned in this only (but highly significant) point, because there's gonna be a restaurant up there, thus the steel structure. The rest of the links between mushrooms will be made (so i had it explained by the contractors) of a self-supporting tridimensional wood structure, while the six pillars are (and were from the beginning intented to be) old-fashioned concrete made, with a wood skin matching the upper structures (not in the first 2 mts, though, apparently for safety reasons).

    On the whole it's quite a fake, hypocritical structural design, a building that misleads the observer about how it really works. But then again, that's not a sin in itself (just a little dissapointing to me).

    My objections run more on the urban side. I agree with P.V. up there: the plaza in the roof of a two-storey market is not only awful, it's a joke; no matter how it is designed, it just won't blend with the streets and free spaces around. The market will be perceived as a square, medium sized buliding surrounded by narrow streets, its perimeter just taking the place of the eternally provisional fence we've suffered for so many years; no new urban space will appear, the continuity between the new upper plaza and the old Plaza de la Encarnación is a big fat lie in the drawings (I'm not even sure wether this so called public upper space won't be closed to the public at certain times).

    We'll get a striking image for the affiches (talk about disneyfying), but no urban improvement.


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