Work on the Vieux Port regeneration project in Marseille, France based on the masterplan by Michel Desvigne and Foster + Partners has now begun.
Under the project, quayside land will be reclaimed as a civic space, creating new informal venues for upcoming events while the traffic area will be removed to create a safe, semi-pedestrianised public realm.
The regeneration of the heritage port is one of the projects to be carried out before Marseille’s inauguration as the European Capital of Culture in 2013.
Foster + Partners chairman and founder Lord Foster said: "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 and 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," Foster said.
The expansion of the space for pedestrians allows for the replacement of the technical installations and boat houses on the quays with new platforms and clubhouses over the water.
During the regeneration the harbour will be landscaped with pale coloured granite to replicate the original limestone shade. The materials used will be of a rough structure suitable for the port setting, while the design will remove kerbs to improve accessibility.
A blade structure located at Quai des Belges, the eastern edge of the harbour will house a new events pavilion.
The events pavilion will be open on all sides featuring a 46m by 22m canopy supported by slender pillars.
The canopy will taper towards the edges to reduce its structural profile and minimise its visual impact while its polished and mirrored structure will reflect the surrounding port.
Image: The regeneration project will remove traffic to create a semi-pedestrianised public realm and will create a new informal venue. Photo: Foster+Partners.