The modern provencal Venice

The similarities between Martigues and its Italian elder do not stop at the canals that run through both cities. While the Venetian Arsenal welcomes the world's architects as part of the city's art Biennale, the "Provencal Venice" has been an in-situ laboratory for contemporary architecture for over fifty years. Thanks to a proactive policy regarding the construction of public facilities and social housing, Martigues has become a remarkable city with regards to Mediterranean architecture. The quality and usage value of the constructions provided to the local population make them references in the matter. The town is living proof that it is possible to build a perennial city in Provence, at once traditional and industrial, wherein architecture and urban planning act as social glue. Martigues is a part of the Town of Art and History network, enabling the preservation and public enjoyment of its heritage. Between Marseille and Fos-sur-Mer stands as a cathartic architectural and urban response to metropolitan ills.

La Venise Provençale moderne Théâtre des Salins École de Ferrières Hôtel de Ville ZAC Paradis Saint Roch Immeuble Moulins de France Ensemble Collectif Notre Dame des Marins École maternelle Di Lorto Centre Funéraire Municipal
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The Notre Dame des Marins Residential Development

The Lego® Social Housing

At the end of the 1950s, architect and urban planner Michel Écochard was tasked with developing the master plan for a priority urbanization plan comprising of 750 residence for Martigues, meeting the housing requirements attendant to the industrial development of the Fos-sur-Mer site. His proposal comprised the Francis Turcan Boulevard, and the urbanization of the southern slope of a hill dominated by the Notre-Dame de la Miséricorde chapel. The complex includes 737 rent-controlled apartments, 94 bachelor apartments, a school, and sports facilities. The buildings are laid out on the site, clinging to the slope or standing as landmarks along the thoroughfare. The complex is linked by separated pedestrian pathways and motorways. The strong presence of vegetation and the extension of the pre-existing pine forest create an almost-bucolic environment, sitting on a ledge overlooking the landscape of the Étang de Berre lagoon. The work of the Delta firm, the residences makes use of half-levels to allow natural light to penetrate the horizontal and vertical passageways. The nesting of the loggias resembles a Lego® construction: de prefabricated concrete facades' textural richness displays a structured interplay of slabs and negative space (the colourful shutters have since been replaced by rolling shutters) that magnifies natural light and gives the building its homogeneous diversity. The building's integration with the rest of the city was enhanced by a rehabilitation of the central esplanade and the interaction of the building with the boulevard by the BauA firm. The building was classified Patrimoine du XXème Siècle (the French “20th Century Heritage” designation).
Architects :
Michel Ecochard urbaniste / Atelier Delta (P.Averous, R. Perrachon, Y. Bonnel, L. Dallest, B. Tarrazi )
Year : 1967 - 1972
Type :housing
Address :
quartier Notre-Dame-des-Marins, 13500 Martigues
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