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Metropol Parasol, Plaza de la Encarnacin Adventures in Engineering

Ove Arup & Partners
San Francisco, CA, USA

Jos de la PEA
Ove Arup & Partners
Madrid, Spain

Professor at the TU Berlin,
Germany, Consultant for
Arup, Berlin, Germany

Jan-Peter Koppitz, born 1973,

received his civil engineering
degree from the Bran. Tech Univ.
of Cottbus. He has worked for
Arup for 14 years, in London,
Madrid and San Francisco.

Jose de la Pea, born 1962,

received his civil engineering
degree from the E.T. S. de Ing. de
Caminos, Canales y Puertos,
Univ. Politecnica de Madrid in
1986. He leads the structural
department at Arup Spain.

Prof. Dr.-Ing. Volker Schmid is

head of the chair for composite
and hybrid structures at the TUBerlin. Before he took up the
professorship and became a
consultant he was working for
Arup in London and Berlin.

The Metropol Parasol is a unique hybrid structure near the center of the old quarter of Seville. This
paper describes its structural design within the context of the overall architectural design and as part
of the urban rejuvenation of the Plaza de la Encarnacin. The project includes a museum, a fresh
produce market, retail space, an elevated plaza and a high-level cafe with panoramic walkways. The
parasols, the most visible part of the public square, are a free-formed timber mega-structure,
constructed with a combination of timber, polyurethane, epoxy and steel. The engineering design
ensured the successful realization of the Metropol Parasol, which has become an integral part of the
urban fabric in the heart of Seville.
This presentation will focus mainly on the design of the 28-meter-high and 150-by-100-meter
timber mega-structure, from concept stage all the way through to construction. The six blended
parasols resemble mushrooms and are manufactured from laminated veneer lumber (LVL) plates.
The design team selected elastic polyurethane coating sprayed onto the LVL planks to protect the
structure against weathering. Based on an epoxy-adhesive for the bonded-in steel rods, this
and wellresearched
and tested
detail is
in order to
increase its
resistance in
Sevilles hot
This paper
the creative
process at
the concept
stage, the use of various structural materials and the computational design tools necessary for the
successful completion of the Metropol Parasol, Plaza de la Encarnacin.
Keywords: timber structure, free-formed geometry, urban regeneration, composite, hybrid
Fig. 1: Metropol Parasol, Plaza de la Encarnacin


Overall concept

Given the diverse architectural and functional requirements, Arup engineers defined different kinds
of structures and materials for the different areas. The foundations are concrete piles, a long
spanning steel-composite structure bridges the column free archaeological museum and the shops at
ground floor level. Reinforced concrete is also used for two of the trunks, the platform for the
restaurant itself is a steel-concrete composite structure and the Parasol structure itself is formed of
timber, specifically Kerto-Q laminated veneer lumber planks. And finally, the walkways on top of
the timber structure and the emergency staircases within the timber trunks are made from steel.


Timber structural concept

Concept Development
The starting point of the structural concept for the Parasols was the architects idea of an iconic,
tree-like, free formed and amorphous form.
The choice of timber was based on many different reasons. Firstly, fabrication is simplified, as flat
timber planks with no double curvature define a complex geometry. Also, due to limited foundation
capacity and locations, the self-weight of the entire structure had to be kept to a minimum. Timber,
with a very high strength/self-weight ratio was a perfect candidate. And finally, through the
innovative protective PU coating (see below) maintenance is guaranteed and does not need upkeep
as steel would need.
Structural Concept
The timber elements are arranged in a two directional grillage, and connected with moment-stiff
connections, ensuring out-of-plane stiffness. Steel diagonals, most of them concentrated below the
walkways to minimize the visual impact, brace the timber grid in its horizontal plane and make the
structure work like a grid shell with a very high bending capacity (Fig 10).

Integrated design and fabrication

Throughout the project the precise shaping, sizing and optimizing of the structures components
were the keys to the projects success. Fundamental for this process was a continuous flow of digital
information amongst all design team members in form of a basic building information model (BIM)
An iterative calculation was run as many times as necessary until convergence, which was run by a
partially automated calculation routine between our FEM model and the structural checking

3. Discussion and Conclusions

In summary, the Metropol Parasol project exemplifies how architects, engineers and specialists can
collaborate to deliver transformational projects. There were many extremely challenging times too.
But now the square is a changed place: the museum proudly exhibits the excavated Roman ruins,
the market stalls have moved back to a central place, and bustle with activity every day, and the
public plaza hosts a myriad of public events, from political meetings, to viewings of major sports
events. Additionally, the neighborhood around the Parasols is experiencing a rejuvenation which
ensures a fresh feeling of optimism amongst the local neighbors. All of this helps to give this new
urban space a sense of meaning and purpose again.
Building owner: City of Seville; Concessionaire and General contractor: Sacyr SAU; Timber
contractor: Merk Timber, Aichach, Germany; Architect: Jrgen Mayer H., Berlin; Engineering:
Arup, Berlin, Madrid