foster + partners: vieux port pavilion, marseille foster + partners: vieux port pavilion, marseille
mar 05, 2013

foster + partners: vieux port pavilion, marseille

‘vieux port pavilion’ by foster + partners, marseille, franceimage © nigel young / foster + partners




a simple intervention on a french quayside, foster + partners newly inaugurated  ‘port vieux’ pavilion is a literal reflection of the idyllic surrounding wharf. the 46 by 22 meter canopy is made of highly polished stainless steel such that it reflects the inverted pedestrian area and harbor at the water’s edge. the project is part of a larger move to reclaim quaysides as civic spaces and is accompanied by the relocation of platforms and clubhouses over the water.


the landscape design was developed by michel desvigne and includes a subtle granite surface that mimics the original limestone cobbles. these elegant and roughly textures materials weave into the port setting and are mirrored in the covered space, which anticipates becoming a space for events, markets and special occasions. while the gleaming pavilion appears to be a quiet silver line on the horizon, the impact of the lightweight steel structure’s underbelly is undeniable. the grand space of the harbor is multiplied and invites users to respect and enjoy the waterscape by becoming both spectator and a component of the spectacle.


UPDATE: the redevelopment of marseille’s ‘vieux port’ was jointly awarded the 2014 european prize for urban public space at a ceremony in barcelona on april, 25th 2014. the biennial prize, which attracted 274 entries from 30 countries, is organized by seven architecture institutions and is the only award of its kind in europe.

the pavilion reflects the bustling port in marseilleimage © nigel young / foster + partners

part of a greater revitalization effort, the covered area is envisioned as an event space and possible market place image © nigel young / foster + partners

spectators can become part of the landscape spectacle image © nigel young / foster + partners

the horizontal plane of stainless steel mirrors the quayside and pedestrian traffic image © nigel young / foster + partners

  • this is indeed, the first and only project of Foster & Partners which i really like! sublime and simple. great job.

    Ewa says:
  • Really lovely.

    Mattia says:
  • wow! this would be totally amazing as a serpentine pavilion, if only someone would propose it and execute it perfectly.

    beta says:
  • did someone just use ‘underbelly’ in an abstract!? yes, yes they did….awesome

    2UrLeft says:
  • It’s conceptually similar to SANAA’s Serpentine pavilion though.

    yo says:
  • Good thing Timothy Leary has moved on….


    JimCan says:
  • Ideas rarely start with the fake corporate avant-garde. Rosa Muerta by Robert Stone from 2007 was the first I saw this and it is still more interesting.

    mdc says:
  • coooool!

    Ruby says:
  • Although I have to agree that this is not completely original in concept (Rose Muerta), on a grander scale and as a piece of public installation art, it is truly inspired.

    Guz says:
  • in addition to Rosa Muerta one might also look at Anish Kappor’s Cloud gate

    I see London
    I see France
    I see someone’s…

    bald spot

    dbkii says:
  • and why on earth nobody published the bird’s eye view of that gew-gaw?


  • It seems that Foster and Partners usually look for ‘inspiration’ in other peole work when asked to produce some shade: this time with the examples already mentioned and also Nouvel’s works in Luzern and Madrid, and in the past with the umbrellas designed for the Repsol gas stations… very nice anyway.

    jorge garcia says:
  • it is flat.

    ricarkar says:

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