MARSEILLE MUSIC AND CULTURAL CENTRE | Marseille, France | Unit 21 | 2016
Awarded Distinction for Thesis
‘The [Un]Seen City’ looks at the mounting surveillance of cities and the affect this is having on its inhabitants and the built urban fabric. Having been designated European Capital of Culture in 2013, Marseille has seen a wave of surveillance cameras being installed across the city with some 1,800 cameras currently in place. Although part of a programme to radically decrease Marseille’s gangland violence and crime, the cameras have also impacted Marseille’s street art culture and its noncriminal population. Seen as a tool to cleanse and gentrify Marseille, many feel that the true purpose of the city’s new eyes is to ‘sanitise each square and park and the very own city’s IDENTITY!’ In the city’s oldest quarter, the Panier, gentrification has been forcing out the lower-income residents and graffitied slogans from popular music (such as the title of a song by rappeuse Keny Arkana) decries the changes wrought by “Euromed,” the city’s giant urban renewal project.
With an ongoing programme of citywide surveillance, I’m interested in how the city is continuously monitored and the changing relationships between the built environment and its inhabitants. ‘Surveillance systems could be used as a means of architectural research with footage revealing how people truly utilise their urban spaces.’ What effect can this have on how we design our cities masterplans and urban spaces?
Having used Marseille’s own CCTV to monitor its citizens, I set about mapping the cities cameras and subsequent blind spots and planning unseen routes through the city. These Marseille ‘corridors’ allowed me to visit the city and its landmarks undetected and unseen, discovering along the way secluded spaces that offer privacy and sanctuary from the cities prying eyes.
Having journeyed through the unresolved city, utilising the newly created ‘corridors’ and thereby avoiding Marseilles CCTV network, the site for a new music and cultural centre was chosen – hidden from view and yet a stone-throw from the cities CCTV monitoring headquarters. Seeking to re-associate Marseille’s ‘unwanted’ with their city, the centre will facilitate the cities alienated musical and artistic heritage and respond to the ambiguous and often unresolved qualities of CCTV, through the use of dense scaffolding – blurring boundaries and views. Housing a number of recording studios and theatres as well as sporting facilities (such as rock climbing, parkour and basketball) and a cinema, the centre provides an open access venue for the people of Marseille.