Castell d’Emporda restaurant by Concrete Architectural Associates
An innovative Corten steel parasol roof structure provides protected outdoor space for diners at this Spanish restaurant.
Location La Bisbal, near Girona, Spain
Completed June 2011
When Dutch architect Concrete was appointed earlier this year to create a roof shelter for an outdoor restaurant it proposed a series of circular parasols — not the flimsy canvas ones found in English beer gardens, but 12 overlapping canopies, of varying diameters, made from Corten steel. The backdrop to the semi-permanent parasols is a stunning medieval castle called Castell d’Emporda, which is now a boutique hotel.
The canopies were commissioned to increase the seating capacity of the hotel’s Margarit restaurant, on a 250sq m terrace to the side of the hotel.
The castle is on a hill, within sight of the sea, between the Pyrenees and the Mediterranean near the town of La Bisbal in Spain. It dates from 1301 and once belonged to Pere Margarit, a captain who served under Christopher Columbus. More recently, Salvador Dali wanted to buy it for his wife, but the owner refused his offer to pay with artworks.
The €200,000 (£175,000) project’s close proximity to the listed castle meant height restrictions were enforced, so the structures are all 3.2m tall. The canopies are horizontal to keep the height down and also “to make them look like abstract parasols”, says project architect Erikjan Vermeulen.
With their flat, veined appearance, they also resemble lily pads, and provide shelter from the sun and rain.
The architect steered away from a glass roof or winter garden so as not to create a feeling of being inside a building.
“The parasols create a sense of being in an outdoor environment and read as a separate, almost temporary element, leaving the ancient building untouched,” says Vermeulen.
Corten steel parasols
Corten steel was used for the canopies, which range in diameter from 2.5m to 7m. Corten’s rust colour blends in with the earth and the castle’s stonework. It is also a good material to use outside as the rust forms a protective coating which protects against corrosion.
The 3mm-thick Corten steel top layer was made in segmented sections with 8mm sides, welded together in the factory and bolted into place on site. Insulation was fitted to the underside followed by plasterboard sheeting and finished with white stucco which was applied on site.
Each of the parasols is supported by a 20cm-diameter circular steel column painted white (RAL 9010) and bolted to its foundation at the site.
When it rains, water drains towards the centre of each canopy, travels down the inside of the steel column and eventually seeps into the soil down the hill.
All the electrics for the halogen spotlights and the built-in speakers are concealed within the column and canopy.
At times of strong cold winds, transparent PVC curtains can be pulled round to enclose the marble dining tables. The curtains are hung from a top rail integrated into the perimeter of each parasol and fixed to the ground.
Where there are gaps between the parasols, sections of safety glass have been inserted and sealed with silicone to provide consistent cover.
The construction of the canopies took about two months to complete.
Architect: Concrete, Client Albert Diks and Margo Vereijken, Castell d’Emporda, Steel construction Bellapart Construction, Ground-work, ceiling & electrical Burgos Gasull, PVC curtain Laso