METROPOLE AIX-MARSEILLE-PROVENCE: A NEW POLITICAL CENTRE FOR A NEW TERRITORY | Marseille, France | Unit 21 | 2016
On the 1st January 2016, a new territory was formed: Aix-Marseille-Provence Metropole. Over the next few years, the Metropole will be increasingly acquiring power, through a devolvement from the Paris French Government. This premise formed the basis for my dataset when investigating Marseille: What is the political climate of this new territory and what will the new Metropole need in order to be a major power in France? Already the largest Metropole in France, could Aix- Marseille-Provence be the most important in terms of trade, international power and the Mediterranean too?
It was found that Marseille and Provence did not come together in this marriage-of-sorts merrily. The two areas are culturally, politically and economically very different areas. Marseille is not Provençale, or so a Marseillaise person would argue. The bringing together of these two areas into one political territory was fascinating. The existing political infrastructures do not support this, as there is no neutral ground for the new Metropole Parliament to meet. As such, this scheme proposes a new political centre for a new territory.
Through my investigations, I used 3 protagonists to develop a narrative of potential clients for the scheme. Not just a workplace for the politicians, the scheme must offer other functions and spaces to aid the Metropole in engaging with the disconnected public [there are poor voting turnouts in Marseille] and to offer this new citizenship of the Metropole a place that is theirs to share. The main means of this was by the reintroduction of a beach back into the site, as a fun, democratic, civic space for all citizens to freely enjoy. This wraps around the building; on it, round it, through it.
Political boundaries became vastly important through my work. The ZUS or Zone Urbaine Sensible is a French system whereby areas are designated as priorities for funding and development. For Marseille, I found this region was massive, taking in large parts of the port, old town and core of the city. This drew me to a site on the fringe, where I began to criticise the edge condition and fringe of the ZUS – often seemingly arbritary in its distinction between the zone and the outside.
With all this in mind, I devised a masterplan that took into account the role of political boundaries in Marseille. I then worked into the main political building in more depth, through my DR project. The end of my project saw me looking again at the scale of the masterplan and drawing the narrative moments I had created. The relationship of the civic and the formal political spaces drove a complex interweaving of programs in 3-dimensions.
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