The centrepiece of the ambitious Euroméditerranée regeneration project, situated near the commercial port and one kilometre from central Marseille, is the new headquarters of the French shipping company CMA CGM, designed by Zaha Hadid.
The site is crowded and noisy, but rich in physical elements. At ground level, the long, narrow site is dominated by massive concrete viaducts, and the rhythmic sequence of their supporting pillars, where a raised highway splits in two and skirts either side. To overcome the difficulties of the situation, the design strategy was to break up the façade into vertical segments, differentiating each through different light effects and different colours of glass in alternating light and dark shades, which, by overlapping, create two shells with a different appearance. The resulting double skin structure incorporates the load-bearing columns outside the main body. In addition to providing sun shading, this system frees the façade from any limitations imposed by the interior, which is designed as modular office spaces.
The volumes therefore express movement and flow, with the segments of the structure rising from the ground like vertical vectors, gradually converging, and then gradually separating as they continue to climb to the top of the tower. Standing 328 feet (100 metres) high, the tower offers spectacular views over the Bay of Marseille, the city and the docks. The tower therefore accentuates the verticality of the site while adding a strong new presence to it. In its lower sections, however, the vertical lines change to horizontal ones, reflecting the horizontal movement of pedestrians, cars, trams and even boats, with the site just 328 feet (100 meters) from the sea.
The building is divided into two sections: the 602,778 sq.ft. (56,600 m2) tower and the 393,959 sq.ft. (36,600 m2) adjoining building, for a total of over a million square feet (93,200 m2). It accommodates around 2,700 workers (who previously worked in seven different buildings), 700 cars and 200 motorcycles in undercover parking, an 800-seat restaurant, a gymnasium and an auditorium.
Location: Marseille, France
Client: CMA CGM Group
Gross Floor Area: 93.200 m2
Architects: Zaha Hadid Architects
Local Architects: SRA, RTA
Local Engineers: Coplan Provence
Façade Consultant: Robert-Jan Van Santen
Acoustics: Albarique Rouche
Structures: GTM Sud
Façades : Epitekh
Floor Finishes: Unimarbres, Mattout
Electrical Plants: Cegelec Sud-Est, Santerne
Furnishings : MioDino-Faram
Photo by : 1/3-5-6-11 ©Iwan Baan, 4-7/10 © Christian Richters