it’s a sad day…

for architecture.

No, it’s not the anniversary of Gaudi’s death by tram; it is, however, a time for mourning in Spain.

The just recently completed (over-budget, over-time, over-done) Metropol Parasol by J. Mayer H. is a horrific addition to Seville’s lovely avenues perpetually draped in gauzy sunshades. NOTE: Some may say Seville, home to the world’s oldest, most famous, most spectacular bullfight deserves something equally gut-wrenching but those PETA people would be wrong.

The worst part of this project is the promise that there will be more to come, DeZeen reports that J. Mayer H’s monstrosity is part of “their redevelopment of the Plaza de la Encarnacíon”. Oh. no. Please! Stop!

First, I’ll show you the best image from the project by prefacing it with this commentary: If this were a third-year architecture studio and (below) was a 3DMax rendering this project might do exceptionally well. Then again, the issues of build-ability, truthfulness of materiality/structure, and contextual/cultural responsiveness most likely would not enter the three minute discussion that unjustly culminates weeks of sleeplessness. High-marks for looking cool but don’t you just want to reach right through your computer screen and rip off that oval chip in the upper left hand corner?!!!????!!

So, if you’ve never been to Seville or any charming southern Spain city then perhaps you think this is grand.

Grand isn’t the word… HUMONGOUS is the word!

This Plaza is as close to the historic heart of the city as you can get (which is something so artfully cropped from the image above (the theoretical student presenting this project is a genius, knowing that if he crops out the context, it won’t creep into the convo! The actual architects are just waiting for their hubris to get the best of them)).

You’ll now see why the above photograph was the first one all-knowing DeZeen posted… take a gander at the following contextual photos:

The further the zoom out, the closer your chin gets to hitting the floor, right?

The project was marketed as a way to assign a new identity to Seville. Sadly, all it does it give people a new man-made object to try to locate from space. Also, it looks like with a few gallons of water a day it could grow to envelope the whole city. Decidedly unlike a delicate parasol that you can fold up and tuck in your dainty handbag, don’t you think?

The wood admittedly looks great from afar. Residents/recent tourists say that up close the detailing of the connections and the finishes of the wood are more horrific that Gehry’s Bilbao (Spain loves flashy, poorly worked out architecture, apparently, something to keep in mind…). Also, concrete columns are doing the real work here, and so the over-wrought wood lattice is merely decoration (and not even functional decoration… a huge mesh like this is hardly effective as a sun-block, which I imagine was the strongest argument for this project in the first place back in 2004 when it won first prize in a competition. Perhaps this was the nature of architecture seven years ago, I was in 11th grade so it’s hard to say completely as I was still crafting tinfoil replicas of the aforementioned Gehry masterpiece…).

The bright spot (literally): The supposed skywalk would be a nice stroll – I imagine tourists using it for views and not residents, since walking closer to the sun is not exactly motivation for most southern-bred Spaniards, most of the year!

For an unbiased review, http://www.dezeen.com/2011/04/26/metropol-parasol-by-j-mayer-h/

One horrible architectural intervention cannot take the full-blame for turning this day so many shades of gray…

behold the Sugamo Shinkin Bank by Emmanuelle Moureaux. Moureaux is a huge fan of color and some of his projects are successful enough, such as his take of Corbu’s Ronchamps, and again, at first glance, I thought COOL!

DeZeen is just too great when is comes to picking the money-shot.

Then I saw the interior photographs.

Again, to be fair, Moureaux is a French transplant to Tokyo and nowhere but Tokyo (okay, Asia) would this fly for a bank (would you bank there? Seriously? I LOVE kitsch and whimsy and color and fluo-lacquer, but even I would be afraid my money would be given to the first circus that came to town!).

Also, to be fair, it’s been a while since I went inside a bank – thank you drive through ATM! – hence, Moureaux is just showing, not winning the “worst architecture I’ve seen today” award.

Fingers crossed for a better tomorrow!!!!

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2 thoughts on “it’s a sad day…

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