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Marseille Vieux Port

The redevelopment of the Old Port is jointly through Marseille Provence Métropole and the City of Marseille.

Marseille Vieux Port is one of the grand Mediterranean ports, but over time the World Heritage-listed site has become inaccessible to pedestrians and has been cut off from the life of the city. The masterplan for its regeneration will reclaim the quaysides as a civic space, creating new informal venues for performances and events and removing traffic to create a safe, semi-pedestrianised public realm. Its transformation is one of a series of projects to be completed in time for the city’s inauguration as European Capital of Culture in 2013.

Marseille-Vieux-Port-By-Foster-Partners-02-Nigel-Young-e1363598773567-759x506 Marseille Vieux Port / Foster + Partners

© Nigel Young

Enlarging the space for pedestrians, the technical installations and boat houses on the quays will be replaced with new platforms and clubhouses over the water.

The landscape design, which was developed with Michel Desvigne, includes a new pale granite surface, which echoes the shade of the original limestone cobbles. Planting is kept to a minimum in favour of hard-wearing, roughly textured materials appropriate to the port setting. The design eliminates kerbs and changes in level to improve accessibility, as well as using removable cast iron bollards to maximise flexibility.

Marseille-Vieux-Port-By-Foster-Partners-03-Nigel-Young-e1363598829985-759x506 Marseille Vieux Port / Foster + Partners

© Nigel Young

Using very simple means, the space will be enhanced with small, discreet pavilions for events, markets and special occasions. At Quai des Belges, the prominent eastern edge of the harbour, a dramatic blade of reflective stainless steel will shelter a flexible new events pavilion.

Open on all sides, its 46 by 22 metre canopy is supported by slender pillars – the canopy’s polished, mirrored surface reflects the surrounding port and tapers towards the edges, minimising its profile and reducing the structure’s visual impact.

Marseille-Vieux-Port-By-Foster-Partners-04-Nigel-Young-e1363598883222-801x1200 Marseille Vieux Port / Foster + Partners

© Nigel Young

“I know the harbour at Marseille well and it is a truly grand space. This project is a great opportunity to enhance it using very simple means, to improve it with small, discreet pavilions for events, for markets, for special occasions. Our approach has been to work with the climate, to create shade, but at the same time to respect the space of the harbour – just making it better.” – Lord Foster says

Marseille-Vieux-Port-By-Foster-Partners-06-Nigel-Young-e1363598977875-759x507 Marseille Vieux Port / Foster + Partners

© Nigel Young

“Our aim has been to make the Vieux Port accessible to all – the project is an invitation to the people of Marseille to enjoy and use this grand space for events, markets and celebrations once again. The new pavilion is quite literally a reflection of its surroundings – its lightweight steel structure is a minimal intervention and appears as a simple silver line on the horizon, but it brings a new focus, provides basic shelter and creates a venue for performances during this very important year for the city.” – Spencer de Grey, Head of Design, Foster + Partners

Marseille-Vieux-Port-By-Foster-Partners-11-Tangram-Architectes-e1363599139363-759x518 Marseille Vieux Port / Foster + Partners

© Tangram Architectes

Foster + Partners:

The 46 x 22 meter pavilion is made of stainless steel and perched on slender pillars, whose reflective surfaces entice visitors to join and interact with the space, while providing shelter from the intense sunlight. With aims to rejuvenate the port area and give the civic space back to pedestrians, the structure is also ideal for event hosting, markets, and special occasions, and has already become a very discreet yet highly identifiable landmark for the city.

Marseille-Vieux-Port-By-Foster-Partners-construction-process-06-Tangram-Architectes-e1363599636430-759x569 Marseille Vieux Port / Foster + Partners

construction process – © Tangram Architectes

The transformation of Marseille’s World Heritage-listed harbour was officially inaugurated on Saturday during a ceremony attended by Eugène Caselli, President of Marseille Provence Métropole and Jean-Claude Gaudin, the Mayor of Marseille. The event marked the completion of the new ‘club nautique’ pavilions and a new sheltered events space on the Quai de la Fraternité at the eastern edge of the port, built to commemorate the city’s year as ‘European Capital of Culture’.

The new events pavilion is a simple, discreet canopy of highly reflective stainless steel, 46 by 22 metres in size, open on all sides and supported by slender pillars. Its polished, mirrored surface reflects the surrounding port and tapers towards the edges, minimising its profile and reducing the structure’s visual impact.

Marseille-Vieux-Port-By-Foster-Partners-construction-process-11-Marseille-Vieux-Port Marseille Vieux Port / Foster + Partners

construction process – © Marseille Vieux Port

Reclaiming the quaysides as civic space and reconnecting the port with the city, the boat houses and technical installations that previously lined the quays have been moved to new platforms and clubhouses over the water. The pedestrian area around the harbour has been enlarged and traffic will be gradually reduced over the coming years to provide a safe, pedestrianised environment that extends to the water’s edge.

The landscape design, which was developed with Michel Desvigne, includes a new pale granite surface, in the same shade as the original limestone cobbles. The simple, hard-wearing, roughly textured materials are appropriate to the port setting, and to improve accessibility for all, kerbs and level changes have been eliminated.

Marseille-Vieux-Port-By-Foster-Partners-10-Tangram-Architectes-e1363598636409-759x508 Marseille Vieux Port / Foster + Partners

© Tangram Architectes

Old Port of Marseille:

Since the early Greeks pushed their boat into this natural shelter “against the waves, the wind and the enemy,” the original creek has changed. The city was gradually occupied three sides, which has continued to build and rebuild on itself. Depending on the progress of activities that are practiced and occupation of the water, the width of the docks has been changed. Ledger history of Marseille, yet still reads essential pages around the Old Port.

Marseille-Vieux-Port-By-Foster-Partners-concept-plan-09-Marseille-Vieux-Port-e1363599424717-759x489 Marseille Vieux Port / Foster + Partners

concept plan – © Marseille Vieux Port

It is important to respect this heritage makes the value and originality of the site. Theater incomparable Old Port, where boats, masts erected between houses, continue to enter the city, rather than the city as elsewhere simply to spread along the shore, and the magic of the place , the light changes over hours, decor mineral scraped it looks like the wind and the sunset a golden veil covers all this treasure makes a landscape Marseille does not deserve the slow but steady asphyxiation consecutive an overflow of cars. therefore had to act without just simply react. The call to the talent of architects, planners and landscape held a prayer meeting in the Old Port of Marseille and their guests!

Marseille-Vieux-Port-By-Foster-Partners-concept-plan-01-Marseille-Vieux-Port-e1363599201936-759x441 Marseille Vieux Port / Foster + Partners

concept plan – © Marseille Vieux Port

Project Data:

Project name: Marseille Vieux Port
Location: Marseille, France
Coordinates: 43.295262,5.373838
Type: Public Facilities, Waterfront
Project Area: 100 000 sqm
Project Year: 2011
Status: Built
Completion Year: 2013

The people:

Client / Owner / Developer: MPM, Marseille Provence Metropole
Architects: Foster + Partners – Riverside, 22 Hester Road, London, SW11 4AN, United Kingdom
Collaborating Architect: Michel Desvigne, Tangram Architectes – 10 rue Virgile Marron, 13005 Marseille, France
Additional Consultants: Ingerop Mediterannee, Aik Yann Kersale, Ingerop Mediterannee
Text Description: © Courtesy of Foster + Partners, Marseille Vieux Port
Images: © Nigel Young, Foster + Partners, Tangram Architectes, Marseille Vieux Port

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