Masterplan for Marseille’s Vieux Port / Foster + Partners

Courtesy of

One of the greatest Mediterranean Ports is about to be transformed. Work has begun on the Old Port of as part of a series of regeneration projects to be completed in time for the city’s inauguration as European Capital of Culture in 2013. Based on French landscape architect Michel Desvigne’s and London-based architects Foster + Partners’ competition-winning master plan, the project will reclaim the quaysides as a civic space, creating new informal venues for performances and events, while traffic is relocating traffic to a safe, semi-pedestrianised public realm.

Lord Foster stated, “I know the harbor 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 harbor – just making it better.”

Courtesy of Foster + Partners

In order to enlarge 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 harbor will be landscaped with a pale-colored granite, which echoes the shade of the original limestone cobbles.

Courtesy of Foster + Partners

Materials used are hard-wearing with a rough texture, appropriate for the port setting. Furthermore, the design eliminates curbs and changes in level to improve accessibility, as well as using removable cast iron bollards to maximize flexibility.

Courtesy of Foster + Partners

At Quai des Belges, the prominent eastern edge of the harbor, a dramatic blade of reflective stainless steel will shelter a flexible new events pavilion. Open on all sides, its 46 by 22 meter canopy is supported by slender pillars. The canopy’s polished, mirrored surface reflects the surrounding port and tapers towards the edges, minimizing its profile and reducing the structure’s visual impact.

Reference: Foster + Partners

Cite: Rosenfield, Karissa. "Masterplan for Marseille’s Vieux Port / Foster + Partners" 13 Mar 2012. ArchDaily. Accessed 27 May 2015. <>
  • Ricardo Stanzani

    Ferry Terminal by Sanaa?

  • wasn’t it already?

    Actually Ferry Terminal + Serpentine Gallery Pavilion ’09, both by SANAA. I think that pure and pioneering ideas as much as important and fresh are for any consideration, shouldn’t be repeated. They might be reinterpretated or conclusions from them might be used as an ispiration for further exploration. But not repeated as it happens here.

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