From the Old Port to the Arenc CEPAC Silo. Heritage, 2013
The Marseille coastline, with its 57km maritime façade – from Calanques to Estaque – has undergone a complete metamorphosis, in no small part because of Marseille CEC 2013.
L’esplanade J4 et le J1, l’ idéal réceptacle de futurs grands évènements. Photo MP2013 © G. Clement / Provence Tourisme
Musée Regards de Provence, un joyau pour une Fondation qui a du sens. © E. Dautant / Provence Tourisme
The transformation known as Euroméditerranée, which grew out of State and local authority initiatives, began in 1995, but MP2013, in fact, accelerated all its projects. The aim? To strengthen the development of high-impact cultural facilities while at the same time promoting the local artistic fabric. Nothing has been more effective in giving the city of Marseille a powerful impetus and a strong development of key cultural institutions, shops, cinema and theatres than its candidacy as the European Capital of Culture!
The Old Port has been the prestigious theatre where Marseille’s history has played out for 26 centuries. It underwent a veritable transformation in 2013: easier port access, reduced traffic, and the creation of the Ombrière. This regeneration project was entrusted to Norman Foster, French landscape architect Michel Desvigne, and built by Marseille architects Tangram. Still today, it is the place to meet and take pictures, often acrobatic, of street performances, as well as being a shelter, its primary function. This 1000m2 reflective roof 6m above ground has made Marseille the only city worldwide where you must look up to see the sea.
The Mucem, linked to Fort Saint-Jean by a footbridge, is an architectural masterpiece designed by Rudy Ricciotti. The sky reflecting on the façade, between glass and laced concrete, provokes a photographic frenzy. The European and Mediterranean Civilisation Museum holds our ‘Big Blue’ civilisation treasures. A combination of permanent collections and temporary exhibitions sheds light on its diversity. Tracing and analysing the ancient foundations of this pool of civilisation and the tensions running through it right up to the present day are its core themes. The museum, ranked among the 50 most visited museums in the world since it opened, now boasts 13,100,000 admissions. The 120,000 visitors in 2022 confirm its place as one of the preeminent museums in the national cultural landscape.
A few steps away, the Villa Méditerranée’s audacious architecture is a real challenge, with its cantilever overhanging a 30-metre pool. An underwater room gives a view of the sea through portholes. It has been the perfect setting for the Cosquer cave reconstruction, created by Kléber Rossillon and the Region, since 4 June 2022. Two years in the making and an instant success, 530,000 visitors have discovered it since its inauguration. The cave finally reveals its secrets buried 37 metres down for 30,000 years.
The J4 plaza running alongside these buildings is also a landmark. It takes its real name, Promenade Robert Laffont, from the old hangar that stood there until 1997. Bordered by the sea, facing the majestic La Major cathedral, it has become a place for strolling and events – Fiesta des Suds, Acontraluz, Summer Festival...
The Regards de Provence Museum looks set to become the most important private cultural facility. The eponymous foundation is finally establishing its structure in a permanent and iconic location. Benefiting from collections built up by Pierre Dumon and his wife Michèle (paintings, sculptures, photographs, and drawings relating to Marseille, Provence and the Mediterranean from the 18th century to the present day), it hosts numerous temporary exhibitions featuring modern and contemporary art. An undeniable success for the past ten years.
Let’s go back across the Quai de la Joliette to J1. This emblematic building on Marseille’s seafront, constructed in 1923 by the Eiffel company, saw its upper floors renovated to host the Mediterranean and Le Corbusier exhibitions in 2013. The top of the building fell into oblivion after a few fine cultural events. But this was without counting on the ambition of its owner, Grand Port de Marseille Fos, to see it reborn and to make it the port’s showcase in the years to come. The Vinci consortium, with the Reichen & Robert agency, was chosen to develop a mixed space combining leisure and economic activities, a veritable gateway to the open sea. A tertiary, cultural, hotel, leisure, service, and commercial space see the beginning of its immense transformation this year, preserving its architectural and historical treasures in the process.
A building calls out in front of us. A multitude of glass scales, an elevated section, a set of footbridges, and an impressive urban terrace... Some 1,700 30mm-thick panels create this “pixel” effect. Texture, material, brilliance... The Fonds Régional d’Art Contemporain is a carefully considered construction. A project designed by Japanese architect Kengo Kuma, emblematic of the Joliette district’s renewal. Its interior design, inspired by Le Corbusier’s Cité Radieuse, offers a choice of strolling through voluminous spaces that are subtly open to the outside. Its success has continued unabated since its opening ten years ago, thanks to a programme that is always cutting edge.
Heading west, we walk along the Terrasses du Port towards the CEPAC Silo, rebuilt as a 2,500-seat concert hall based on the Olympia model, and then towards the Euromed Centre multiplex with its 14 cinemas, family area, and digital centre. Benefiting from strategic location and visibility, they contribute to the transformation of Marseille’s maritime façade and its extension.