Marseille European Capital of Culture 2013 | An Urban Walk by Sara Van Rompaey
Mid February, the official start was given for a year of circuses, new galleries and venues, exhibitions, street entertainment, fireworks, open air concerts and lots more.
Close to the well-known “Vieux port” of Marseille, the ferry harbour neighbourhood between “Fort Saint Jean” and “la Joliette” is undergoing a facelift with some new high tech architecture and several examples of re-use of industrial buildings. At the time of my visit, the scene along the waterside was still dominated by construction sites with tower cranes and white contractor vans. Most of the new museums are not yet open but the walk is a taste of what’s to come.
The Vieux Port of Marseille has always been a mythical place and is now partly pedestrianized, with a large open area looking onto the port.
Villa Méditerranée, designed by the architect Stefano Boeri, is known in the area as J4. It is situated along the sea front between the Fort Saint Jean and the cathedral La Major. It has two main public areas, one under the sea and one in the air. It will house the permanent exhibition Parcours des Méditerranées (Mediterranean trails), where visitors will be able to “see and live” the experience of the Mediterranean.
A new national museum of European and Mediterranean civilizations is currently being built around the Fort Saint Jean on the Vieux Port. This huge project designed by architect Rudy Ricciotti will house a national collection dedicated to the Mediterranean culture(s).
Amazing to see how the implantation of the new museums triggers the revival of historic buildings.
A huge hangar situated in the old port area of Marseille. On the quay the ferries still operate. In the building top floor there is a huge space housing three galleries, a performance space and a bar/restaurant. It has fantastic views over the port. A lot of the major events in 2013 will take place here.
Le Silo is a new concert arena on the docks. As the name suggests, it is a converted silo. Much of the original building has been retained so it’s very impressive.
FRAC (Fonds Régional de l’Art Contemporain) will be a home for contemporary art collections and an exhibition space. It is located 10 Boulevard Dunkirk in the area known as Euromediterranée, the scene of a lot of redevelopment. The building is designed by Kengo Kuma.
To get an idea about the city of Marseille you can go to Pavilion M, a building of wood and glass in the Place Bargemon, next to the Hotel de Ville. The Pavilion has
exhibitions about the city, its people and what goes on here. On the upper floor houses a tourist office providing information about capital of culture events.
- Vieux Port pavilion by Foster + Partners (dezeen.com)