Landscape & Urban Design, Spain, Portugal, Travels

Metropol Parasol & Rural Solei

A parasol you can float on top of.

One thing I was really pushing to see before we left Sevilla was the Metropol Parasol by Jürgen Mayer-Hermann. At a cost of nearly 100 million Euros, some may think that such an extravagance is well beyond the means of a small city like Sevilla. With the number of tourists that it sees, however, I think the cost will become less important in time. I'm a big fan of outrageous gestures that reconstitute the feeling of the public realm, and this giant parasol certainly does that.

The structure itself, a lattice of micro-laminated timbers and one of the largest timber structures in the world, is reminiscent of a stand of giant mushrooms from the street level. Close up some of the detailing looks a little like the tail was wagging the tiger; the lattice-concept gets lost in the enormous structural columns that hold up the light, undulating canopy above. All that is forgiven once you're on the roof; while the waves of timbers are enough to captivate your view with their shifting shadows and curvaceous edges, there is also an unparalleled panorama of the old city of Seville to be experienced on the rooftop paths.

This is not to say that Sevilla doesn't already have some magnificent public spaces; the culture of outdoor living agrees perfectly with the climate. On December 29, the temperature was a very conducive 18 degrees, with a perfectly cloudless blue sky. The riverfront of Sevilla is another gorgeous promenade to be discovered; we only had a fast 10 minute jog here while seeking out churros (nowhere to be found!!?). This is our second visit to Sevilla and there's still so much to explore.

Your run-of-the-mill streetscape in Sevilla; orange trees, granite pavers, and a feeling of pure bliss while relaxing in the shade.

Everytime I visit Spain, I find a newer, better reason to make it my home one day. While driving back on the highway, we spotted a grouping of what appeared to be enormous white towers with light-beacons glowing in the distance. Our curiosity piqued, we took a lovely detour through the countryside in search of the source of such strange structures... and found the world's first Solar Power Tower energy plant, PS10.

READ MORE ABOUT THESE INCREDIBLE THERMAL SOLAR TOWERS HERE!

Near to the solar power facility was signage for a new planned community that would be completely powered by PS10; it was obviously planned before the crash though, as deserted streets and construction equipment indicated that no one had been around for quite some time.

Back in Portugal, we stopped at the small border town of Vila Real de Santo Antonio for a sandwich and coffee, where the town centre was filled with people celebrating... we don't know what.