Zaha Hadid Architects’ First Built Tower: CMA CGM Headquarters

  • 28 Mar 2013
  • by
  • Architecture News
© Hufton + Crow

’ first built tower, the CMA CGM Headquarters in , France, is most immediately notable for its vertical form.

As the stunning images from Hufton + Crow show, the tower’s disparate volumes (generated from gradual centripetal vectors) gently converge towards each other and then bend apart to create an elegant “metallic curving arc that slowly lifts and accelerates skywards into [...a] dramatic vertical geometry.”

Read More about CMA CGM Headquarters, after the break…

According to Zaha Hadid Architects’ web site: “The curving profiles on the exterior facades work with the central core of the building, bringing a rigid frame and a sense of movement to this completely new typology of tower.”

© Hufton + Crow

However, although the tower’s vertical form may steal the spotlight, special attention was also placed upon the ground life of the tower. Situated on a busy site, surrounded by an elevated motorway viaduct and on top of a convergence of public transport facilities, the tower’s lower portion extends its horizontality in order to “relate to the extreme horizontal energy of pedestrian, automobile, tram and shipping movements at ground level.”

With its striking vertical presence 142.8 metres above the ground, the tower will clearly become an iconic landmark for the city of Marseille; however, the integrated design strategy of the CMA CGM Headquarters will also keep it in dialogue with the city:

© Hufton + Crow

“The unique design strategy of the new CMA CGM Headquarters divides the overall volume into smaller fragments and reassembles them in a way that maintains the integral uniformity of the tower but with design elements that optimise its relationship with the city of Marseille.”

Story via Zaha Hadid Architects

Cite: Quirk, Vanessa. "Zaha Hadid Architects’ First Built Tower: CMA CGM Headquarters" 28 Mar 2013. ArchDaily. Accessed 23 Sep 2014. <>


  1. Thumb up Thumb down +42

    many towers, it turns out, are notable for their vertical form.

    • Thumb up Thumb down +8

      Sean – this comment made me laugh, hard. Thank you for pointing out the obvious!

  2. Thumb up Thumb down +13

    If only Zaha were always this restrained.

  3. Thumb up Thumb down +3

    From the one photo of the ground level, it looks anything but engaging. If not for the single photo at dusk showing the pink reflective hues from sunset on the skin, it is tough to find anything interesting or remarkable about this project. I remember the renderings, which oddly enough, seem impossible to find now, looked much more dynamic, but then again, you can say that about basically any Zaha project.

  4. Thumb up Thumb down +5

    “this completely new typology of tower”… ? is it the arc, or am I missing something?

  5. Thumb up Thumb down +1

    What design elements optimise the relationship with the city of Marseille? Sounds interesting so far nothing more…..

  6. Thumb up Thumb down +1

    i respect her architectural attempt
    her buildings are often interesting to look at
    however, her buildings destroys the cultures around the building
    it’s like placing ice cubes in hot coco

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