Monument, Symbol and Urban link Renovation of Les Docks | The Plan
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Monument, Symbol and Urban link Renovation of Les Docks

5+1AA Alfonso Femia Gianluca Peluffo

Monument, Symbol and Urban link Renovation of Les Docks
By Giorgio Tartaro -

How to describe an intense, complicated project like the one just completed at Les Docks in Marseille, one of the largest buildings in France recently completely renovated for new use by the painstaking, knowledgeable intervention of architect practice 5+1AA? Simple: with a letter.

 

Giorgio Tartaro rights to Alfonso Femia

 

_1

Dear Alfonso,

You asked me to assess, even harshly, an important piece of your personal and professional lives. I’ll answer with impressions, the way I usually do when trying to formulate what I think; I let things flow - a flow of consciousness, understanding and acknowledgement.

The first thing that comes to mind. Others follow.

The archetypal letter.

 

Act One

Status quo ante

Went by car from the MuCEM, the harbour, Foster, other projects in the beehive of activity that is Marseille. Enter dark dusty worksite. Potential, what once was, plant and equipment being re-laid.

Couldn’t bring myself to believe that all 5+1AA was doing was a mere restoration job with some earth removal, everything based on those beautiful white tubes holding the plant and equipment. Had imagined a wider, more thoughtful intervention: a theme explained. You had talked once to me of a fantastic new life for these dark courtyards. But what I saw was a worksite, a dismal dark place. The size of the building and the way the project was to proceed would tell a very different story.

 

Intermezzo

The surroundings, horror and splendour

The opening towards the sea of this shopping mall by the harbour, the interminably long walk to get to the terraces and finally see the sea, and the massive harbour wall, all speak of the city’s need to close itself off from the sea, the source of its wealth, but also an ever-present danger. It makes you understand the...

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