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EUR - Europan XII Marseille Plan d'Aou district

"The main street becomes a promenade, mostly pedestrian, which gives access to a new housing development"

Client / Client: City of Marseille
Location / Place: Marseille, France
Area / Surface: 4.5 ha
Year / Year: 2013
Cooperation / Collaboration: ---
Status / Status: Competition / Concours

Plan d’Aou is one of the northern districts called «sensitive area» of Marseille to which it is connected by the Saint-Antoine train station and 3 bus lines. The district has been built in the 70’s on a 10ha land in the 15th district of Marseille. Plan d’Aou is located on a site with a beautiful view on the rest of the city. Because of its location, the district is difficult to access. This is a somewhat eccentric area that deserves to be highlighted to take advantage of this location.


The city of Marseille wants to continue the dynamic of the urban renewal started long time ago in order to enhance the quality of life in this district as part of a large urban renewal.

The main goals of the interventions are to integrate activities and services inside the district, to create accommodations suitable for an aging population, to enhance public spaces and to create a sustainable and adaptable architecture.


The different stages of constructions and demolitions created a juxtaposition of typologies that have not been thought as a whole. This has created a non-homogeneous neighborhood and lack of consistency.

The new interventions will have the sensitive goal to give back an identity to Plan d’Aou while being integrated in its environment and creating a link with the existing urban fabric. This new identity will be given by the creation of various housing typologies to meet the needs of residents. Another mission will consist in the opening of the district on its surroundings in order to connect it to the nearest districts and equipment.


The site has some strong and unique features which can be equally advantages and/or constraints. The project will have to take advantage of these strong features and transform the constraints into positive points for the project and neighborhood renewal.

Therefore, the Mail Canovas will be extended to the entire site to connect Plan d’Aou to the train station and the district of La Bricarde at the bottom of the hill. The mail becomes a promenade, mostly pedestrian, which gives access to a new housing development. A long stone base on which four housing plots are displayed follows the boundary of the site and releases a generous land to host a large community garden for all residents. Moreover, these new volumes act also as a screen protecting the heart of the district from the strong Mistral wind. These four volumes take advantage of their positions to produce green energy through wind turbines on the roofs.

Different typologies of housing are created on the site in the same alignment with the existing urban fabric and frames. Their positions allow the preservation of the bunkers, which become totally integrated into the landscape garden.


A third of the site is built and occupied by new functions. This is mainly housing of different sizes and typologies but there are also some shops and mixed-use building with residential and a sociability space along the mail Canovas.

The residential buildings are located and oriented on the site to get the best sunshine throughout the day and have the least shadow impact on their neighbors. The urban voids they generate are an integral part of the common garden which is accessible to all residents of the area. It includes a playground covered with a protective vegetal mesh. The garden is punctuated with the existing bunkers which have been preserved and turned into landscape elements. Their particular geometries give a relief to the common garden.

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