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SAMUEL LOZEAU-LAPRISE The Bartlett School of Architecture March Urban Design 2013-2014 UD1|RC15 Tutors: Platon Issaias, Camila E. Sotomayor

MArch Urban Design UDI: The Project for the Mediterranean Comprising 25 nation states, 13 language groups, and almost half a billion people, the Mediterranean defines the encounter between Africa, Europe and Asia. Its shores are caught by two fundamental and ongoing transformations: the Arab Spring and the financial crisis. At the same time, the Mediterranean Sea has become the most highly policed waterway on earth as the European Union attempts to insulate itself from flows of migrants from Africa and Asia. Add to this the unprecedented levels of diaspora and conflict in the Levant and there is no other space with more at stake in terms of coexistence between human beings and with their natural environment. Furthermore, in a number of different ways the Mediterranean manifests the problem of the ‘weak state’, whether through financial crisis, corporate dominance, institutional failure or military rule. Simultaneously then, a number of new non- and extra-governmental polities are emerging, raising important questions to do with citizenship, belonging and the idea of a public. These mutations, while placing new constraints on urban transformation, also open new spaces of financial investment evidenced by opportunistic flows of capital, especially from the Persian Gulf and resource revenues from the North of Africa. Beginning in September 2012 and concluding in September 2015, ‘The Project for the Mediterranean’ consists of three one-year design studios with an accompanying public calendar of symposia, conferences, lectures and roundtables. The project aims to build a community of academic, professional and public interest around the agency of design and its role in transforming the future of this region. Adrian Lahoud

RC15: Monsters of the Subsoil/Ruins in Reverse The cluster investigates exemplary urban spaces in relation to traces of human activity and forms of production. The scales of intervention expand from the territorial space of logistics, military/police operations and resource management, to the smallest scale of the dwelling and the individual room. Issues such as the commodification of culture, monopoly rents, regional antagonism, locality, cultural forms, geopolitical domination, military conflicts and ultimately ideology and competition in a global scale acquire a paradigmatic value in the context of the Mediterranean territory. The cultural and political history of the Mediterranean necessitates a discussion that expands into a complex urban matter, a spatial material to be studied, mapped and drawn in a forensic, operational section. We understand this type of section as a device that unveils the deep structure of the city and the given spatial/architectural environment. The purpose of this understanding is not to proceed to a mere managerial treatment of quantities, commodities and values, but on the contrary, to move beyond it in an operative way. We aim to re-think the elements that govern space in the first place and to intervene within their very organisational patterns. Moreover, if the city is recently understood in a series of horizontal layers or fields, and not as a political organisation with multiple, three-dimensional apparatuses of control, it is precisely the vertical cut that interrupts spatially and temporally the passivity of these seemingly smooth, homogeneous spaces. The section allows us to grasp the complexity of these parallel operations and to unveil how these are ultimately interconnected. Forms of occupation, modes of production, organisation of everyday life, habitual patterns, things we produce individually or in collaboration, our entire bios and zoe are not only traceable, but always managed and control in this vertical, almost invisible plane. We are proposing to operate precisely within this complex stratum. In the case of the Mediterranean context, the phenomenon of global and regional tourism, the distortion of historic narratives and the construction of national/regional identities collapse within vestigial spaces, ruins, archaeological trenches, highly secured ports and waters, militarized zones, refugee camps, “hospitality� centres and regenerated historic districts. Art and knowledge industries, the re-structuring of traditional/ historic forms of production under the pressure of global economies of scale, the precarity of contemporary forms of life and, ultimately, the very representation of the city and its matter become the foundation of our approach and our quest within the Mediterranean. What we aim for is an understanding of this territory through a sectional complexity, within which space (architectural and urban) mediates an existential conflict. Tutors: Platon Issaias, Camila E. Sotomayor


Within the Mediterranean context, we want to study spatial environments as a stratum of complex mechanisms that produce the urban. In this context, this thesis claims the port, the shoreline and the sea, to be primarily an urban landscape where violent and traumatic collisions occur but furthermore as a relevant space for design in all its complexity, tensions of scales and implications within the larger complex assemblage of the Mediterranean and the globe. These processes make the urban to expand, while also creating ruins within it. It’s if as something that exists has already become its own ruin within the constant friction and negotiation of the complex evolving fabrication process of the urban. The project starts from an understanding of the contemporary process of circulation, where the port has become one of its most important thresholds. In these spaces it’s where we can open a discussion on the relation between sea and land and to bring a new vision to urban design by looking at the port landscape from a sea perspective anchored in a deep maritime knowledge. Exploring its main apparatus - the container - the project extrapolates from this archetype the notion of protocol, scale and measurement to apply it to the territory and the exchange between land and sea. Inspired by the container, the project enunciates a set of principles that defines the interface of the Architecture of the port, in order to program the interaction within the different components included in these principles in a timely manner and in relation to the global pressure and the local reality of Marseille. From this exposition, the project proposes a complex shift in the port landscape by de-industrializing the center of Marseille and moving all the industrial activities to the larger port of Fos-sur-Mer. Interventions are defined in time at 3 specific points of interaction within the landscape of the port. First, on the negotiation of limits of the containerized space of the port landscape, showcasing how negotiations of the limits happen in regards to time, the environment and the requirements of each specific industrial activity. Second, the project creates a large scale territorial extension of the port to accommodate the evolution of ships and to include the dredging of the actual basin that redefines circulation in the port. Thirdly, the project targets the gradual modification of the surrounding shoreline in order to protect the productive landscape of the port from the raising of sea water caused by global warming. This whole process creates a constant conflictual exchange of take, give and control between the land and the sea from a legal reconfiguration of space to the movement of micro particles of soil. All these are planned operations that gravitate within the complex stratum of mechanism and protocols, where the port is proposed, not as a simple drop off point for cargo but as a fully integrated urban entity that operates from the smallest to the largest scale.



1. The Urban as a Complex Stratum


2. The Mediterranean, Marseille and the Port


3. The Port as an Apparatus of Control


3.1. The Controlled Journey of a Container


4. The Territorial Evolution of the Port


5. A Project of Measurements


6. The Architecture of the Port


6.1. Principle 1: Integration of the Port in the Global Political Landscape


6.2. Principle 2: The Connection and Requirements of the Different Industrial Activities of the Port


6.2.1. Container Zone


6.2.2. Liquid Bulk Zone


6.2.3. Distribution Zone


6.2.4. Dry Bulk Zone


6.2.5. Industrial Production Zone


6.3. Principle 3: The Specific Requirements and Dimensions of the Ships


6.4. Principle 4: Adaptation to the Environmental Pressures


7. Shifting Landscape


7.1. Reconfiguration of the Port


7.2. Territorial Expansion of the Port


7.3. Terraforming of the Western Shoreline


8. Conclusion


9. Bibliography

Appendix 175

A. History and Theory Essay: Correlation Between Complexity and Scale in Urban Design


B. History and Theory Archive C1. Studio Workshops


Exercise 01: Beyond the Avant-Garde


Exercise 02: Institutions, Cities, Events and Urban Operations


Exercise 03: Workshop on Representation C2. London Workshop


Exercise 01: London Transits


Exercise 02: Neighbourhood Analysis


Exercise 03: A Design Intervention


1. THE URBAN AS A COMPLEX STRATUM Within urban design, the possibility arises to investigate different ideas and theories about the production and evolution of the

Physical city

human settlements in all its forms and in relation to the territory. The approach the thesis takes within our cluster is to look at

Fig. 1.1 (top): The stratum Fig. 1.2 (bottom): Interaction of the forces in the evolution process


space as a complex stratum where the urban is established by an operative mechanism that is the result of an ever changing


set of pressures from different layers within different realms. This stratum as a figurative section from where we can unveil a


deeper structure within the city’s given spatial and architectural conditions, since this process moves through time it adapts


itself and leaves behind ruins that are re-introduced and Design

modified for new requirements. Our purpose is not only to extract an impressive quantity of Ec al




data but also to go beyond this perceptible information and see this stratum as an operative process, to examine it as a set of complex evolving fabrication operation that interacts l



l Po

and produces the urban. As designers we have to look at all the different layers that govern space and to understand them in order to be able to intervene within their convoluted organisational patterns. We ought to grasp and unpack these patterns in all their parallel operations and connections.



The project takes inspiration in the designers, architects and engineers of the 19th century, who were morphing the modern city not by playing with materials or with banal restoration

to is H

disciplinary relation between the Architecture of the city with all



projects. Instead they had a clear understanding of the multithe systems and apparatuses within in. Most of them constituted

tu ul C

railways, and therefore necessitated a total comprehension,



a complete new reality, like sewage systems and urban from their technical operations and specifications, to the political implication of their application in the city.

RC15|Samuel Lozeau-Laprise


Fig. 1.3 & 1.4: 19th Century section of a street unveilling the new modern systems like the sewage network Source: Eugène HÊnard, Cities of the Future, Paris. 1910


The Urban as a Complex Stratum

RC15|Samuel Lozeau-Laprise



Fig. 1.5 The connectivity of one of today’s new apparatuses of the urban: notes Information and the Internet image Source:

Title of chapter

RC15|Samuel Lozeau-Laprise


2. The Mediterranean, Marseille and the port

2. The Mediterranean. Marseille and the port The context of the Mediterranean environment, as a central

Marseille is also at a crossroad. Since antiquity, the port city

point of study, sits in a complex post-industrial landscape,

has been established as a threshold of exchange, a port where

where, with a paradigmatic value, the Mediterranean cities, in

people & goods transited. Still today, the port of Marseille is

our case Marseille offers the opportunity to dive in this complex

one the leading ports in the Mediterranean, for cargo as well as

layering of physical, political, social, historical, cultural and

passengers transit, and still holds a very important position in

economic forces.

the world global exchange, especially in terms of liquid fuels.

The autonomous port of Marseille-Fos, at the heart of the

Focusing on the territorial entity of the “Port Autonome de

coastal city of Marseille in France, presents itself as a special

Marseille-Fos”, the thesis, in collaboration with other projects

site to study this Mediterranean complexity. The port of

of the cluster, opens a larger Mediterranean discussion on

Marseille has always played an important role for France in the

the relation between land and sea. This meeting point is an

Mediterranean. At the same time, it stands at the center of a

essential point of negotiation in the history of Marseille and

city, which holds a combination of interesting particularities.

the Mediterranean, where a new vision of urban design can be brought by looking at the port from a sea perspective

Throughout its history, the geographic setting where Marseille

anchored in a deep maritime knowledge. Within this, the port,

sits, has constrained its urban growth. Being bounded by

the shoreline and the sea, could be claimed, first as an urban

the Mediterranean Sea on one side and by mountains on

landscape of violent and traumatic collision, but furthermore,

the other has forced the city to form a dense center, turned

as a relevant space for design in all its complexity, tensions of

toward its harbor and water front edge. That has imposed

scales and implications within the larger complex assemblage

meaningful limitations on the expansion of the city and on the

of the Mediterranean and the globe.

consequences of inadequate urban planning like elsewhere in France. Socially, Marseille is also somehow unique because it has no “banlieue” like other major French cities like Paris or Lyon. The physical setting may not explain completely the relative peace of Marseille, which persists despite sharp racial, economic, social and geographical divisions of its metropolitan agglomeration. Social entities collide and work together in relatively the same dense urban spaces where places of worship, soccer clubs or even the drug trade are embedded in this complex social network.

RC15|Samuel Lozeau-Laprise



image notes Fig. 2.1. Marseille amongs the Mediterrinean sea

Title of chapter


Fig. 2.2. Modified high resolution satellite imagery unveilling Marseille metropolitan region Source: USGS

Fig. 2.3. Panorama of Marseille showing the port of La Joliette and the surrounding landscape


The Mediterranean, Marseille and the Port

RC15|Samuel Lozeau-Laprise



The Mediterranean, Marseille and the Port

RC15|Samuel Lozeau-Laprise



The Mediterranean, Marseille and the Port

RC15|Samuel Lozeau-Laprise


Fig. 2.4. View of Marseille’s topography and it’s multitude of social housing towers


The Mediterranean, Marseille and the Port

Fig. 2.5. Industrial activities within the Port of Marseille-Fos in Fos-sur-Mer


The Mediterranean, Marseille and the Port

Fig. 2.6. The scale of the activities in the bay of Fos in image notes relation to the landscape

RC15|Samuel Lozeau-Laprise


3. THE PORT AS AN APPARATUS OF CONTROL As Negri and Hardt stated in there book “Empire”, we are

and supranational entities. The result has been a much more

now facing a growing series of national and supranational

complex and rapidly evolving set of institutions that govern

organisations that are united under a single logic of rule. This

urban areas, where we as designers have to juggle between

order is the capitalist production, where the movement of

local needs and global realities.

goods is one of the most important processes to maintain the growing creation of the surplus.1 We are now seeing that nation

Today, the port has becomes an important apparatus of control

states all around the world are increasingly unable to regulate

of movement and production, constantly generated and

economic & cultural exchanges. Everything has already

distributed on the global scale.


A Negri & M Hardt, Empire, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, 2000, p. xii


Negri & Hardt, p. xii

3 Ministère de l’Écologie, du Développement Durable et de l’Énergie, Réforme des ports maritimes francais [webpage], (2013) <http://www.>, accessed 21 July 2013.

become decentered and de-territorialized whether in terms of scale, location or decision making.2

In order to better grasp the complexity of this moving process, the thesis elaborates a fictive story following the process

To understand the complexity of this system it is very important

and technicality of transporting industrial merchandise via

to grasp the political game we have to navigate in as designers.

container in the context of the Mediterranean. More specifically,

To understand that the birth of these large entities or institutions

it uses a scenario transiting through the port of Marseille-Fos.

like the Port Autonome de Marseille, exist in a context, where,

This allows the understanding of many global trends and

in order to ensure the local (the city) is more competitive in the

regulations within the global movement of goods, specifically

global economy, the state has outsourced some functions so

in a port and sea environment dominated by the container. This

that it can reconfigure itself within the recent economic crisis

process is very much regulated from the simple barcode on

(2008) or debt in general. In Marseille, this has been taking

each container to the complex global exchange trends. The

shape with the “Réforme des ports” and the privatisation of the

impact of this process of movement goes beyond what is

Dockers contracts. This reform translated in a refocus of the 7

visible on a map and beyond any political borders.

major port of France towards infrastructure management and promotion of the port. While legally this strengthens their role

The container, in the context of standardisation, integrates

as territorial developer in order to become active participants in

conceptual and architectural definitions that where revolutionary

the local development.

for the shipping industry. The idea was the agreement between


the carriers and the shipper of a specific set of principles We are now designing at a time where a shift from local

that would regulate a standard volumetric object. This would

government to rather local governance is underway and its

become the container that we know today. First, was the need

effort goes to compete for increasingly global and mobile

to establish the relation between wall, top and bottom of the

investment capital coming from all around the world. The

volume that would allow for a specific containment. Secondly,

local state has transferred many of its power and duties to a

this new size would also regulate minimum and maximum

complex network of local and national, non-state institutions

loads, which together would define the requirement of a series

RC15|Samuel Lozeau-Laprise


Fig. 3.1. Map of todayâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s global shipping routes illustrating the density of commercial shipping routes on the worldâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s oceans Source:


The Port as an Apparatus of Control

of other gravitating objects in the handling of the container. That is all the tools and the different transportation system that are


P Lucas, J Ballay & M McManus, Trillions: Thriving in the emerging information ecology, John Wilers & Sons, New Jersey, 2012, p. 37-38

in contact with the container. Thirdly, a set of barcode norms allows for an understandable dialogue between the shippers and the carriers as well as the others organisation taking part in the complex movement and control of the shipping industry. This allowed for the creation of a specific interface of responsibilities, where the inside of the box belongs to the shipper and the outside belongs to the carrier. This notion of clear limits between the two constituent and the establishment of pre-negotiated point of responsibility at the beginning and the end of the movement is very important to facilitate the large scalable system that is the shipping industry.4

RC15|Samuel Lozeau-Laprise


Fig. 3.2. The surface of a containerâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s back facade


The Port as an Apparatus of Control

2438mm 980mm

Door header


Owner prefix & Serial number Locking bar

XXXU 000000 0 U S 0000

Locking bar guide

30 485 KGS 67 200 LBS


4000 KGS 6820 LBS


26 485 KGS 58 380 LBS


2373 CUFT 672 CUM



Consolidated data & Custom plate (GPS tracker)


Country & Type code

Weight panel & Decleration

J-Bar part of corner post


Door handle

Custom flap covering custom seal

Door handle retainer & Catch

Locking bar brackets

Door gasket

Fig. 3.3. Reveiling the complexity and measurements behind the surface of one containerâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s facade

RC15|Samuel Lozeau-Laprise


3.1. THE CONTROLLED JOURNEY OF A CONTAINER 1_ A Bourges tuning car shop, running low on Renault engine replacement pieces manufactured from the new Renault factory in Algiers, orders from the French maker one full container - a standardized 40 foot long container that fits on the back of any freight truck. An Algerian logistic company lines up the truck carrier. [Fig. 3.4.] 2_ The trucking carrier arrives at the Renault factory. The factory staffs loads the engine pieces inside the container, and then the door of the container is bolted shut. It will not be opened again until it arrives at the tuning shop in Bourges, unless custom inspectors decide to open it. [Fig. 3.5.] 3_ The freight forwarder figures out which port it will be most economical to ship from. It is determined that the container with be driven down to Algiers’s port where it will be loaded on a cargo ship that will sail directly to the Port of Marseille. Then it will be transferred on a barge via the canal du Rhône to the Port of Lyon, which is own at 10% by the Port of Marseille. [Fig. 3.6.] 3.4












Fig. 3.4. Facade of a Renault car dealer from where the order is place Fig. 3.5. Workers loading a container on a standartized truck Fig. 3.6. Freight forwarder figuring out the most logic route for the cargo Fig. 3.7. Close up of the facade of a container showing the EORI number Fig. 3.8. Ocean bounded large capacity cargo vessel Fig. 3.9. Liberian flag. One of the most used flag of convinience Fig. 3.10. Moroccan worker aboard a ship Fig. 3.11. Dockers working in the port Fig. 3.12. Local port pilot aboard a cargo ship Fig. 3.13. Cranes unloading containers for multimodal transferts Fig. 3.14. French coastguards patrolling French waters Fig. 3.15. Containers delivered on standard truck via public highways


4_ Before boarding the cargo ship in Algiers the shipping company must submit to custom officials all the details regarding the container and its content. For example, who is exporting it, who is importing it, who were the subcontractors involved, a description of the content, etc. It also most obtains an EORI number, which is a custom identification number recognised throughout the European Economic Community.

opened only if the scan shows something suspicious inside. 7_ Once cleared, the container is boarded into the cargo ship bound ditravelling on is owned by a German conglomerate, flies a Liberia flag and has a crew of mostly Moroccans. (see [Fig. 3.8.- 3.10.]

8_ Before the ship arrives, terminal operators in Marseille go to the local dockers private companies to subcontract enough men to operate the unloading of all the cargo on the ship. [Fig. 3.11.]

9_ After crossing the territorial waters, a pilot employed by the port authorities boards the ship a few miles before arrival and manoeuvre it inside the port bay and docks. The same procedure was done during departure in Algiers. [Fig. 3.12.] 10_ Upon its arrival in Fos sur Mer the container is unloaded and scanned, its scan shows that it already hold custom clearance and it is bound to Brouges. Then the container is placed in a specific section of the port where it will be reloaded on a barge. The barge will be using the canal du Rhône to get directly to the Port of Lyon. It might stop along the river Rhône to drop or pick-up containers at other local ports. [Fig. 3.13.] 11_ Supervisors employed by the port operator direct the dockers to unload each container and put it where it belongs. Some are place directly on trucks, rail cars or barges; other are placed in a storage yard to await further transfer.

[Fig. 3.7.]

5_ The information will be processed by different state agencies who use intelligence with computer databases and algorithms to rate, by their risk level, each of thousands of containers been ship through several ports. Factors that could raise the risk level of a container: - First time importer - Unexpected trade pattern - Trade partners with suspected ties to terrorism, drug traffic or immigrant smuggling. 6_ The information is then transmitted to port officials about which containers are the riskiest and which one are worthy of inspection. If the engine container is one of them, the port authorities will conduct the inspection using gamma ray or X-ray scanners without ever opening it. The container will be

The Port as an Apparatus of Control

12_ Port authority employees monitor the perimeter of the port to ensure no one hops the fence or gets into the port without proper clearance. 13_ The French coast guard patrols around the territorial waters for potential water-borne attacks or for people on the ship who might seek to slip into the territorial water unnoticed. [Fig. 3.14.] 14_ The engine container is place on a truck and driven to the tuning shop warehouse in Brouges, where the shop workers will unload it and but the engine parts on display for sale.

RC15|Samuel Lozeau-Laprise



4. TERRITORIAL EVOLUTION OF THE PORT From an historical point of view, the container, amongst many

Further on, the 20th century sees the specialisation and

other factors, has, in time, greatly modified how physically the

construction of larger docks for container, oil, grains and other

port functions and forms its own territorial volume. In order to

products at an unprecedented scale, in order to receive even

obtain a clear technical understanding of the evolution of the

larger, specially designed and built ships. These enormous

port of Marseille-Fos, the thesis takes a look at the “anyport”

ships needed not only bigger docks, but also more depth of

theory from M.Bird issued in 1963 which was developed to

water. For all major ports, this meant a migration of activities. In

explain the historical development and future of any port,

the case of Marseille, the migration of port activity occurred to

anywhere on the planet, regarding the evolution of global

the north in a non-urbanised area next to the village of Fos-sur-

shipping trends. Consequently, the 4 steps of evolutions fit

Mer. The scale of those docks shows the violence from which

correctly within the development in time of the actual port of

they have been dug by force on the landscape, being one of


the 1960s “grand projects”. On the other hand, the settings



C Comtois, J-P Rodrigue & B Slack, The geography of transport systems, Routledge, New York, 2006, p. 132

of the older port near the central areas became obsolete and The generic theory expresses that at first, in the antiquity,

were transformed to be adapted to urban regeneration projects

the port is strongly dependant on its geographical settings,

or transformed to receive leisure cruisers or private boats.

normally the furthest point of inland harbour accessible to ship. Before the industrial revolution, ports remained

In this continuous evolution process of the port, it is significant

pretty rudimentary, with fishing activities and warehouses.

to unveil how topography and the soil played an important role

Workers were living next to the warehouses and working in

in this history. Also, to show how the landscape has changed

those same warehouses. The port was relatively small and a

dramatically from the early days until modern time. During the

crucial element of the central urban fabric. Then, during the

evolution of the port, the ideology was always about expending

Renaissance, the port docks and activities extended slightly

the port into the sea, by pouring landscape material and

larger to eventually surround the whole bay of a city, while its

building new docking structures. But in modern times, when

expansion simultaneously occurred.

the scale of the port infrastructure needed to be bigger than ever, that meant the port couldn’t be expanded into the sea

The expansion during the industrial revolution triggered

anymore, but the sea needed to be dredged into the actual

several changes that impacted the port itself but also its

untouched landscape, where new docking structures could be

related activities. New docks had been build and expanded to

then build.

adapt to larger ships and larger quantities of goods. Those are also built to allow the construction of larger ships, while new connections to railroads permitted for the rapid distribution of goods. Port activities now included industrial activities, where the workers came from everywhere and not just from the immediate surroundings.

RC15|Samuel Lozeau-Laprise


From top to bottom: Phasing of the port theory applied to Marseilleâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s port Fig. 4.1. Phase 1 - the ancient port setting Fig. 4.2. Phase 2 - Expension of the port to the limit of its capacity Fig. 4.3. Phase 3 - Modern expansion in connection to new transportation networks Fig. 4.4. Phase 4 - Specialization of the port (containers) to receive larger boat in deeper water


Territorial Evolution of the Port

Fig. 4.5. Marseille’s port configuration during the antiquity Fig. 4.6. Marseille’s port configuration during the renaissance Fig. 4.7. Marseille’s port configuration during the industrial revolution Fig. 4.8. Marseille’s port configuration at present time (2013)

RC15|Samuel Lozeau-Laprise


In the case of the expansion of the port of Marseille towards the bay of Fos, we have to put in context that in the 1960â&#x20AC;&#x2122;s the port of Marseille is topographically saturated because of the presence of the hills of the Martiques to the north and is congested to the south by the old city and the rich hilly estates in the east. At that time, the need for a new expansion is linked to the fact that the Marseille economy in general had to be transformed, following the end of the war of independence with Algeria. Before, the port activities had always been strongly related to the exchange in relation with the colonies. The new port needed to respond a new reality created by an economic bubble of large immigration coming mainly from Algeria, but also needed to be an international message to maintain the French supremacy, at least economically in the Mediterranean. The idea was to build the biggest port of Europe at the time. For France, Marseille was at the perfect location in the middle of an east-west and north-south axis within the Mediterranean geo-politics.

Fig. 4.9. French commandos being transported by helicopter near Oran, Algeria in April 1961 Source: File:Commando_de_marine_(guerre_d%27 AlgĂŠrie).jpg


Territorial Evolution of the Port

Shoreline in 1800

Fig. 4.10. Representation of Marseille regional coastline of today compared to 1800 showing the transformation of the coastline by man and the sea over time







The evolution of the port led to the one of today, which operates in a complex urban landscape as one supra entity. Functions are centralized around two different sites, where each of them registers specific different activities that operate at different

Left, from top to bottom: Fig. 5.1. Longitude and latitude of the globe Fig. 5.2. Dimension of the basins in Fos Fig. 5.3. Typical dimensions of ships Righ,from top to bottom: Fig. 5.4. La Joliette harbour in Marseille’s center Fig. 5.5. Fos harbour in Fos-sur-mer Fig. 5.6. City center of Paris

scales. Scale differential between the two main sites is flagrant. The eastern site of La Joliette, already very large to the human scale, seems relatively small compared to the western site of Fos-sur-Mer, averaging the same dimension as the city of Paris. scales, as tools of measurement and representation. These allow the framing at different resolutions the 3 territorial sites of operation in the port of Marseille-Fos.


To grasp this differentiation, the project established 3 different


All resolutions are based on key elements of the maritime knowledge of the thesis research. The first grid is created from the actual resolution of the longitude latitude used by ships at sea, in order to reference and look at the whole site of the entity on the Port of Marseille. This scale is then established by a spacing of 5 minutes of a degree as on conventional nautical map. From this, the second grid is divided by 10 to create a grid within the same proportion of the manmade basin of the Fos area, in areas. Thirdly, the second grid is also divided in 5 to create a


order to map space at the port’s largest part and its industrial new grid of approximate size to the dimension of typical ferry boats, in order to look closely at the industrial and passenger areas of the early part of La Joliette port. Furthermore, for this idea of measurement, the project extrapolates from the archetypical container and the historical evolution the notion of protocols that, impact scale and measurement.



Fig. 5.7. Scale of the Port of Marseille-Fos with its two harbours

Fig. 5.8. Scale of the gulf of Fos

Fig. 5.9. Scale of the La Joliette Harbour


6. ARCHITECTURE OF THE PORT LANDSCAPE The evolution of the port led to a port that today operates in

6.1. Principle 1: Integration of the port in the

a The evolution of the port led to a port that today operates

Global political landscape

in a united complex urban landscape, where the limit of land and sea is only transitory physically and doesn’t exist politically

The port of Marseille-Fos is constrained within a certain

and economically. A landscape, where the sea has as much

political, ecological, and economical setting. This setting is as

importance and complexity as the land itself.

well formed of overlapping regulations and ownerships from institutions ranging from the city scale to the supra-national

In order to create a standard definition of the port landscape

scale. For example, the port is located in 4 different political

and by extracting from the concept of the container, the

urban agglomerations that each has different needs and

project enunciate a set of principles that state a common set

powers over the decision making of their respective territory.

of components to define the territorial Architecture of the port.

Within each of these agglomerations, there are also many smaller city governments that also have different powers over

The project structures this definition in four principles: 1.

their own territory.

Integration of the port in the global political land


There are also national organisations like the “Conservation


The connection of the different industrial activities of

du littoral”, which is financed half by the French government

the port

and half by private donations, for ecological reason, this


The specific requirements and dimensions of the

organization buys land and properties, in order to block any


new construction and valorize the natural specifies of the sites.


In Marseille’s metropolitan area, they own quite a large number

Adaptation to the contextual environmental pressure

of interconnected sites and some are really close to the port These principles can be technically defined, in order then to


be applied and programed within the interaction of their own different components in a timely manner and in relation to the

On the other hand, the French government also recognises a

global pressure and the local reality of Marseille.

series of zones that are of high ecological value. Some of them are officially recognised as natural parks by the state, others

These set of standard principles can then be shared and

fall under the Natura 2000 program. This program is created

applied to different port landscapes around the Mediterranean

and monitored by the European Union with the objective to

and other seas to open a series of multiple designs using the

promote and protect the valorisation of ecological biodiversity

same standard set of principles but with the different local

in Europe. These zones are evaluated by different private


ecological firms under the watch ofthe French government and the European Union. These zones take no account the limit

RC15|Samuel Lozeau-Laprise


between land and sea, as major parts of the peripheral waters around the region of Marseille also fall under some important marine prohibited and protected areas in the ocean, which affect not only the routes of cargo and passenger ships, but also the territories devoted to fishing. Other international organisations, like the â&#x20AC;&#x153;Ligue de Protection des Oiseaux,â&#x20AC;? have influence on the territory. This group is a member-based organisation based in France, but is mainly a sub-branch of the worldwide ONG call Bird life. What they do is to find and protect areas where birds are nesting, in order to take on actions in limiting new development of these areas via different pressures on the local and national government. This complex political landscape is also transparent on the surface of the ocean as well as under. Both harbours of La Joliette and Fos-sur-Mer integrate strict navigation channels as soon as the territorial waters are crossed by all ships. This limit also integrates the requirement to have local captains boarding the ship in order to do the specific docking maneuvers in each of the harbours. Important point of transition during the French Empire, Marseille is still today a major connection point at the age of globalized transport and rapid information exchange. Marseille is a major point of connection between land and sea in term of global Internet cables. Marseille is the major threshold of worldwide cables for France and the south of Europe. Cables that go through Marseille mainly connect with the North-African Fig. 6.1. Map of the global Internet cables around the world showing Marseille as one of the important hub within the Mediterranean Source:


continent as well as Asian via the Suez Canal in Egypt.

Architecture of the Port Landscape

RC15|Samuel Lozeau-Laprise


Fig. 6.2. Map of complex legal landscape in which the port operates

Fig. 6.3. Map of the administrative boundaries

Fig. 6.4. Map of the ecological zone protected by the French state under the European program Natura 2000

Fig. 6.5. Map of the territory own by the â&#x20AC;&#x153;Conservation du littoralâ&#x20AC;? organisation

Fig. 6.6. Map of the bird protection zones

6.2. Principle 2: The connections and requirements of the different industrial activities of the port

On another level, the division and segregation of its functions also defines the Architecture of the port. From the area where containers are unloaded to where the oil tanks stand, all the functions of the port comprise a very specific organisation and technicality in terms of infrastructure and machines. The major transport infrastructure systems, like highways and railways, have supported urban development from the city of Marseille to the port of Marseille - Fos. With the scale of the activities happening in Fos, these transport infrastructures do more than just surround the port limits. They actually become a structural part of the organisation of the port, where the activities are stich around them. The different levels of road network and railways are at the base of delivering goods, materials and cargos, arriving through the port of Marseille-Fos to other cities in France and within continental Europe.

Fig. 6.7. Movement of containers from ships to trains


Architecture of the Port Landscape

Fig. 6.8. The complex transportation network connecting the port of Marseille-Fos

Fig. 6.9. Containerization of activities in the port landscape of the west harbour in the bay of Fos


Architecture of the Port Landscape




Fig. 6.10. (left) Diagrammatic axonometric representation of the container zone operations and machines Fig. 6.11. Satellite image of a container zone in the Port of Marseille-Fos



Fig. 6.12. Loading of containers on trains Fig. 6.13. Standardised container crane Fig. 6.14. Standardised container lift Sources: The Port of Marseille-Fos

Architecture of the Port Landscape

The organisation of the container zone of the port is


defined by the standard measurement of the container.


These dimensions impact the dimension of the ships, 3

but also the machines that operate the cargo from one


place to another. Cranes and lifts have specific hooks


in order to move efficiently container within the zone. Space within the zone is defined in term of steps within


the process of unloading. Specific areas are for the


movement of cranes, others are used to stack containers for a specific time.




RC15|Samuel Lozeau-Laprise


Fig. 6.15. Detail axonometric of one of the container zones machines : the container lift


Architecture of the Port Landscape





Fig. 6.16. (left) Diagrammatic axonometric representation of the liquid bulk zone operations and machines Fig. 6.17. Satellite image of a liquid bulk zone in the Port of Marseille-Fos



Fig. 6.18. Detail view of a liquid bulk tank Fig. 6.19. Liquid bulk pipelines Fig. 6.20. Organisation of the tank in the landscape Sources: The Port of Marseille-Fos


The port of Marseille â&#x20AC;&#x201C; Fos is one of the most important port in terms of transit of liquid bulk, like petrol and natural gaz. These specific zone of the port require to have large tank in order to stock the bulk liquid either


coming from the different European pipeline or the from the ships. Ships use to transport liquid bulk are specific in their design and just like the containers ships comprised a set of standard pipe connection in order to efficiently attached themselves to any port in the world.




RC15|Samuel Lozeau-Laprise






Fig. 6.21. (left) Diagrammatic axonometric representation of the distribution zone operations and machines Fig. 6.22. Satellite image of a distribution zone in the Port of Marseille-Fos



Fig. 6.23. Relation between container and warehouse Fig. 6.24. The trucks used to move the containers Fig. 6.25. Scale of the warehouses in the landscape Sources: The Port of Marseille-Fos

Architecture of the Port Landscape

The distribution zone of the port is composed of large warehouses that are privately own by specific

2 1

companies. In order to unpack material and cargo from containers they receive and redistribute them to their customers of third party distributors. The preferred mode of transportation is the cargo truck, which is itself design to accommodate the dimension of standard containers.


The zone is organised in this context on the large flat land of Fos, close to the container zone, as well as the highway and national road system.




RC15|Samuel Lozeau-Laprise


Fig. 6.26. Detail axonometric of the standard European container truck


Architecture of the Port Landscape





Fig. 6.27. (left) Diagrammatic axonometric representation of the dry bulk zone operations and machines Fig. 6.28. Satellite image of a dry bulk zone in the Port of Marseille-Fos Fig. 6.29. Relation between ships and dry bulk cranes Fig. 6.30. The specific hooks use to unload dry bulk Fig. 6.31. Relation between ships, machines and storage Sources: The Port of Marseille-Fos



Architecture of the Port Landscape

Dry bulk cargo holds a smaller importance in of space and revenue for the port. Dry bulk consists precisely of large quantities of dry loose matter like sand, salt or grain. By the quality of these materials, they still are



cheaper to move in large bulk quantity rather than use containers. The zone then requires different specific


infrastructure and machines. For example, large crane of specifically design to pull out dry material from the ships and release them in specific piles on the docks. Characteristic piping systems and conveyor belts are also use to transport the material to train and stocking areas.




RC15|Samuel Lozeau-Laprise






Fig. 6.32. (left) Diagrammatic axonometric representation of the industrial production zone operations and machines Fig. 6.33. Satellite image of a industrial production zone in the Port of Marseille-Fos



Fig. 6.34. Technicality of the architecture of the factories Fig. 6.35. The machines of production Fig. 6.36. Relation between the factories and the landscape Sources: The Port of Marseille-Fos

Architecture of the Port Landscape


The port comprise specific zones within its territory where industrial companies are establish and use the proximity of the port to either fabricate material or to distribute their products. These factories also take



advantage of the wide space of the port to establish their technical apparatus of material transformation and storage of products. For these companies the port is an economical location because of the connection in term of infrastructure, from the ships, to the railway, to the highways.




RC15|Samuel Lozeau-Laprise


Fig. 6.37. Ecotech diagram of the wind speed and direction on a year basis in the gulf of Fos at a high of 10m above normal sea levels


Architecture of the Port Landscape

6.3. Principle 3: The specific requirements and

way as a staircase, where you have the largest boats stopping

Dimensions of the ships

at the first steps and the smallest oneâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s going deeper into the basins. But with all this enormous digging, what happened to

When they started dredging these enormous sheltered docks

the earthy material taken out? Most of it was actually used to

or basins to let the sea get in the landscape, the disposition of

flatten out and solidify the area of the port that was swampy

the basin was not random but in fact corresponded to territorial

and the rest was dumped in 2 sites outside at the entry of the

technicality of the site.

gulf of Fos. The most major one is an earth graveyard, away from the harbour at a safe depth of around 60 meters, the other

The docks are aligned to their actual position, because the main

is near the beach of the village of Fos-sur-mer and has the

wind in the region, called Mistral, blows in a north-north west

purpose of breaking the waves coming from the sea.

direction. In the bay of Fos, this strong wind blows constantly all year long and some time can hit speeds near 150kph or

With the creation of channels also comes the need for parking

more. The Ecotech diagram allows us to see that the docks are

space and waiting areas in order to control the entry flow of

perfectly aligned to face the wind on their smallest side. This is

the ships. The port of Fos has around 15 docking stations, but

not a coincidence and unveils another important technicality.

since it receives a consistent stream of ships from around the world, these stations have specific use and ships allowances

The reason for this is that when large ship attempt to safely

that not all can necessarily be used at the same time. Because

dock in the harbour, this alignment of the docks permits to

of this, there is a specific docking schedule on which ship

have the smallest resistance to the wind possible on the ships,

captains need to register before arrival with specific areas of

in order to prevent the vessel from moving during docking time

waiting before getting in to their unloading appointment. Of

and, at the same time, to protect the port infrastructure from

course, the nautical maps also contain areas where ships

damage. Plus, it is also advantageous to have the boats in a

cannot stop or where their presence is prohibited for security

harbour where there are the least possible waves, and if there

or technical reasons.

were waves because of stronger than usual winds, the ships will be able to take the waves from the back or the front in the same way a person who navigates a kayak would do. These ships are also fully loaded when they come in or leave the harbour and the water depths need to be safe. To prevent any problems and an easier approach for all major ships, the port of Fos has special paths that have been dug in order to allow large ships safely in. These channels are made in the same

RC15|Samuel Lozeau-Laprise


Fig. 6.38. Virgin swampy land next to the village of Port-Saint-Louis-du-Rhone in 1950 before the creation of the port. Source:


Architecture of the Port Landscape

Fig. 6.39. Opening of the first tanker station at the new port of Marseille-Fos in 1961. Source: fr/marseille_esp_port/fos.html

RC15|Samuel Lozeau-Laprise


Fig. 6.40. Actual dredging conditions in the bay of Fos


Architecture of the Port Landscape

Unité d’habitation Length: 388m Width: 70m Height: 156m

Typical Panamax Vessel Length: 290m Width: 32m Height: 43m

Typical Post-Panamax Length: 400m Width: 60m Height: 72m

Fig. 6.41. Diagram showing the size of the major types of cargo ships in relation of scale with the Unité d’Habitation in Marseille


Architecture of the Port Landscape

All these elements need to be able to accommodate the continually changing size of the largest ships. To give a perspective of scale, these ships are now nearly or as big in length and in width as the renowned UnitĂŠ dâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;habitation in Marseille built by Le Corbusier. The trend in cargo ships building is always to go bigger and bigger in order to stay cost efficient. Until the end of the 1980â&#x20AC;&#x2122;s the largest ships where sized on the Panamax type, which meant that they could fit in the Panama Canal, the standard and most important canal at the time. But with the evolution of global needs, ships needed to grow bigger, so direct sea liaison like Marseille saw the arrival of the post Panamax ship. Now the boats are getting even bigger, and for this reason, there are building a new Panama Canal to continue responding to the growing global requirements. All of these different physical and technical elements had an impact so large on the docks at the port of Marseille-Fos that the port of Marseille is actually starting extending them again today.

RC15|Samuel Lozeau-Laprise


Fig. 6.42. The CMA CGM Jules Verne at port in Marseille Source: uploads/2013/05/CMA-CGM-Jules-Verne2.jpg


Architecture of the Port Landscape

Fig. 6.43. & 6.44. The CMA CGM Jules Verne operating docking maneuvers in the port of Marseille Source: Port of Marseille-Fos


Architecture of the Port Landscape

RC15|Samuel Lozeau-Laprise


6.4. Principle 4: Adaptation to the environmental

earth as the the east part of La Joliette is composed of harder



The port by its characteristic of sitting at the junction of land

Another interesting thing is that the Mediterranean is a sea

and sea takes into account the physical qualities of these two

without tides or really minor ones compared to the Atlantic


Ocean. In the case of the gulf of Fos, there was no need at the time to raise largely the ground level. The geology in Fos also

In the region of Marseille, topography is characteristic of a

permitted to dredge the sand and the swamps surrounding

very specific geological setting, which allowed for the easier

the gulf in order to dredge the channels necessary to the

creation of the large-scale port in the gulf of Fos. The gulf of

passage of ships. But, the presence of solid rocks at a depth

Fos is located 50km outside of Marseille and was of the perfect

of 25 meters also becomes important because it is not too

soil conditions to build and dig a deep sea port, which would

deep to accommodate the foundation structures of the dock

be able to receive the biggest ships in the world, as well as

themselves or the large industrial constructions.

having large flat space to attract large scale industries. This was important in the 1960’s in order not to just create new

Today, the environmental conditions of the port have changed

port terminals, but as we have seen following the war with

since its establishment and are constantly redefining

Algeria, the idea was to create a whole new industrial hub in

themselves. Linked to the evolution of the activities and the

the Mediterranean.

political complexity of the port, the so called natural surrounding the port is also being productive in terms of farming, aquaculture

The geology that configures Marseille topography is strongly

and salt production. The salt concentration that forms the “Salin

linked to this development of the port. The region of Marseille

de Carmague” creator of the famous “Savon de Marseille”

is very characteristic for its diverse variation in topography. The

exists because of the salt concentration in the western part

east harbour and the old port sit at the same level as the sea.

of the bay of Fos. This soap is part of a vital industry for the

The city center rises gradually to gain levels in between 40 to

cultural identity of Marseille in terms of branding and tourism.

100 meters above sea level. Further to the east, the bay of La Joliette is rather composed of harder rocks that are part of the same geological formation that forms the Swiss Alps. To the west the flat near sea level bay of Fos is separated from the city of Marseille by an arm of rocky hilly mountains call the Martigues, which also separates the Mediterranean sea from Fig. 6.45. Materiality of the landscape in Fos Source: Port of Marseille


the lake of Berre. The region of the bay of Fos is composed of a soil formed of softer sediments like sand and porous ground

Architecture of the Port Landscape

RC15|Samuel Lozeau-Laprise


Fig. 6.45. The aquaculture activities in background of the container cranes of the port in Fos Source: Port of Marseille


Architecture of the Port Landscape

RC15|Samuel Lozeau-Laprise


Fig. 6.45. Map of the topography in the region of Marseille


Fig. 6.46. Topographic section showcasing the variation in elevation of the different geological environnement around the port of Marseille-Fos



Fig. 6.47. Geological map of the area of Marseille-Fos

RC15|Samuel Lozeau-Laprise


Global warming is also an issue that will increase the tension between land and sea in the context of the port landscape. Projected calculation establish that if the water level of the Mediterranean would raise by only one meter, the major surface of the highly productive landscape (natural and industrial) would be threatened by disastrous flooding that would impact the political and economic value of the port in a mid-long term of 30 to 50 years. The understanding and the proposal of a program of the interaction between the different components within these 4 principles creates one solution with variable specific to the site of Marseille. Still, its logic and timely process could be applied to any other port in the Mediterranean and the globe.

Fig. 6.48. Extraction of salt in a flooded â&#x20AC;&#x153;salinâ&#x20AC;? of the Camargue Source: Wirtgen France


Architecture of the Port Landscape

Fig. 6.49. Detail of the salt texture growing in the “salin” of the Carmargue in bay of Fos Source: Wirtgen France


Architecture of the Port Landscape

Fig. 6.50. The specific machines extracting the salt from the surface of the ground Source: Wirtgen France

RC15|Samuel Lozeau-Laprise


Fig. 6.51. The productive agricultural landscape surrounding the bay of Fos Source: Port of Marseille-Fos


Architecture of the Port Landscape

Fig. 6.52. Materiality of the sand forming the western shorline of the bay of Fos Source: Port of Marseille-Fos

RC15|Samuel Lozeau-Laprise


Fig. 6.53. Projected flooded areas in the golf of Fos by a raise of 1m of the global water level


Architecture of the Port Landscape


7. SHIFTING LANDSCAPE The project is centered on the notion of measurements and scales. There is a need to re-negotiate the friction between the

This move triggers a complex negotiation of limits within the

traumatic materiality and borders of the port landscape. As

containerized space of the port landscape, showcasing how

urban designers we can design on a larger architectural sense

negotiations of limits happen in regard to time, the environment

the forms and functions, while having a clever understanding

and the requirements of each specific industry. This legal

of the relationship between the design and all the other

manipulation impacts the infrastructural development of

components in which the architecture of the port revolves.

the territory and is strongly linked to an adaptation of the

Fig. 7.1. Displacement of the industrial activities from La Joliette to Fos.

circulation and water depth within the port. The project creates As the architecture of the port is unveiled, the port operates in

a large scale extension with a new terminal for liquid bulk and

a political context where the port authorities are empowered by

container cargo to accommodate the evolution of port and

the French state to the development of their territory, which sit

the ships on a global and Mediterranean context. The project

in a complex landscape of overlapping regulations. Moreover,

also interacts and targets the gradual modifications of the

this situation is regulated by the technical needs of machines

surrounding shoreline using the dredge material in order to

and infrastructures required by each of the port activities in

morph and protect the productive landscape of the port from

parallel to the specific characteristics of the ships themselves.

the raise of water levels.

This complex situation sits on a material landscape that as is own dynamics in terms of activities, qualities and pressures from the sea. Within this complex architecture of the port, the project proposes the port as an urban space in fluid and constant collision of limit and negotiation that affect and form the larger assemblage that targets, and while it modifies specific points of interaction within the landscape, having impacts on all the scales. The changes begin by the necessity of moving the remaining industrial activities of the old port of La Joliette to the west harbour in Fos, where the scale of the site can accept them immediately and can provide the space for the future growth of all the activities.

RC15|Samuel Lozeau-Laprise


Fig. 7.2. Diagram illustrating the conflict and negotiation between land and sea as well as the seen and the unseen within the landscape


Shifting Landscape

7.1 Reconfiguration of the port

Learning from the past, this liquid soil will be reused and become the stepping stone for the following modifications

On a territorial scale, the project reconfigures the idea of

planned in the port landscape.

containerization of space within the port, where activities are legally confined in specific areas regarding of their sector of

Part of this dredging material is directly reused in time to

activities and needs in term of infrastructure. Especially to the

create new territorial expansion of the port in the bay of Fos.

scale of their requirements and in terms of ships and docking

These new extension take advantages of the existing dredge

access, which impact the bathymetry of the sea and circulation

channels for dredging ship movements but also to incorporate


new industrial activities as soon as a part of the extension becomes accessible from the sea as well as from land. These

The project defines in time these negotiations, as the activities

extensions are over time legally connected to the surround and

from La Joliette start to populate the landscape of Fos, within

new industrial activities but also in term of new infrastructure

the next first 5 years to a span of 20 years.

like roads and railways.

This new gradual distribution makes the statement that in Fos,

In other words, the modification of the limit of the shoreline

because of its scale, the complete landscape becomes a large

creates a process of give and take between the legal limit

productive area of a non-static state. It creates a complex

and the material landscape, where the micro particles of soil

and constant patchwork collision of property and ownership,

take part importantly within this highly economic and political

overlapping and regulating the landscape within the activities


of the port and outside, as well as on land and sea. But this legal reorganisation needs to take into account the physical infrastructure of the port and will require a massive planned dredge operation of the existing channels, in order to allow a maximising of the productivity of the shoreline, in terms of docking points and access. This means a non-imaginable number of millions and millions of cubic meter of soil extracted from the sea by a process of dredging that is highly technical and extend in a long process in time, of gradually removing land and moving it somewhere else either by digging the shoreline or pumping the sea bed.

RC15|Samuel Lozeau-Laprise


Fig. 7.3. Phase I _ Actual distribution of the activities


Shifting Landscape

Fig. 7.4. Phase I _ Actual conditions of physical landscape


Shifting Landscape

image notes

RC15|Samuel Lozeau-Laprise


Fig. 7.5. Phase II _ + 5 years in the distribution of the activities


Shifting Landscape

Fig. 7.6. Phase II _ + 5 years in the evolution of the physical landscape


Shifting Landscape


Fig. 7.7. Phase III _ + 10 years in the distribution of the activities


Shifting Landscape

Fig. 7.8. Phase III _ + 10 years in the evolution of the physical landscape


Shifting Landscape

Fig. 7.9. Phase IV _ + 20 years in the distribution of the activities


Shifting Landscape

Fig. 7.10. Phase IV _ + 20 years in the evolution of the physical landscape


Shifting Landscape








Fig. 7.11. General view of the master plan of the new territorial extension of the port



Shifting Landscape

7.2 Territorial expansion of the port

This creates a quicker relation between international and local cargo to make it more efficient, which as economic

The most major of the these territorial expansion is the

repercussions for the shipping companies, and so on to the

creation of a fully new terminal, which takes into account the

whole value of the goods transited.

localisation in the bay of Fos, the deeper sea water and the new dredge paths. These attach to the existing landscape a space

Another new component in this extension is the creation of a

containing the two main components of the port: liquid bulk

buffer zone between the non-standard proximity of the liquid

and container cargo, with their required ships and technical

bulk and container cargo activities. This buffer zone takes

apparatuses and machines.

shape as a hill composed of contaminated dredge material that could not have been used in the creation of the new

On this new territory, the project inserts a new adaptation of

landscape because of its high toxicity. By being placed there,

global reality by the requirements to develop a new system

it is permitted to decontaminate using mechanical process as

that will quickly deliver cargo to central Marseille, which wonâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t

well as vegetal. But it also acts as an explosion buffer in case

be deserved internationally anymore. The new container sector

of a catastrophe in the oil sector in order not to disrupt the

is divided in two terminals, one international at the extremity in

activities in the container sector.

order to accept the largest ship and one local at the end. To easily create exchanges between the two, the project interacts within the machines of the container sector of the port to integrate a new open air underground container tram link that connects all docking points. This link completely changes the transportation dynamic in Marseille, as containers coming from large international ships that are tagged with a destination in central Marseille are directly placed on the tram link. The tram then moves them up to the local terminal, from which they are then directly placed back on smaller local ships bound for the remaining part of the old port of Marseille, or the other smaller coastal cities, like Montpellier and Nice.

RC15|Samuel Lozeau-Laprise


Tanks distributed in regards to their type of liquid bulk

Small local ships receiving containers from international ship to distribute them in smaller ports in the region

Security checkpoint for trucks coming and going in the port

Standardized pipe connection that directly connects to every oil tankers

Secure separation between the local and international terminals

Standardized oil tanker with specific dimensions regarding the bulk liquid they carry

Largest container ships that can carry more than 9000 containers on a single journey

Trucking station for European road distribution

Hill composed of contaminated dredge material

The earth is containerized in geotextile depending on their degree of toxicity

The surface of the hill is maintained in a vegetal state serves as a resting ground for birds

Shafts maintaining the aeration of the soil

Container tram service yard and building

Administrative buildings

Buoy indicating the dredge channels

Fig. 7.12. Section of the new container dock unveiling the container tram link as a new device within the component of the container zone


Shifting Landscape

Fig. 7.13. Collage showing the materiality of the port image notes components on the new territorial expansion

Title of chapter

RC15|Samuel Lozeau-Laprise



Shifting Landscape

7.3 Terraforming of the western shoreline On the other hand, the untouched shoreline of the gulf of Fos also is the weakest point, as it concerns the reality of global warming. This whole complex and highly productive territory is threatened by the violent dynamic body of the sea, in the wake of the near future raise in sea water, but also threatened by the constant effect of erosion caused by the fluid movement of the sea. In the context of negotiations between scales, the project reuse the soil particles of the extraction of dredge material to create a dynamic stretch on the sandy shoreline of the this area of the gulf of Fos. These massive dumps of dredge material are precisely positioned into a certain form as to take advantage of the tidal and current movement as well as the direction and force of the wind to, with time, be reintegrated in the shoreline itself in order to solidify it and raise it over time. This action also allow this so call natural landscape that has been cohabitating with industrial activities for more than 60 years to gradually accept and adapt itself to its modification and reality. In this sense, the landscape transformation is a necessary geo-trauma that operates on more scales than only the biology of the site. As the landscape is transformed vegetation and wild life will also adapt and take advantage of the global evolution in the landscape.

RC15|Samuel Lozeau-Laprise


Fig. 7.14. Technical plan of the dimension and disposition of the dredge material at the initial stage image notes in phase II

Title of chapter

Fig. 7.15. Collage of the materiality of new territory and gradual movement of the particles that will in image notes time redefine the shoreline


Title of chapter

RC15|Samuel Lozeau-Laprise



Shifting Landscape

8. Conclusion In all, the project acknowledges and understands the reality of the port and, while trying to define the Architecture of the port, it operates exactly within its components, by modifying the architecture of the legal lines to the architecture of the landscape in all its materiality. The creation of this new shifting landscape is rooted in this organisation of measurements, scales and impacts as it proposes a whole new process that creates a constant conflictual architecture of the landscape between the land and the sea from a political territorial reconfiguration to the micro particle of dredge dirt, all which are operations that gravitates within the complex physical, time, legal and political space where it propose the port, not as a simple drop off point for cargo but as a fully integrated urban platform that operates on the smallest to the largest scale. Addressing the complex institution of the modern global port the project opens in Marseille a larger Mediterranean discussion on the relation between sea and land and tries to bring a new vision to urban design by looking at the port from a sea perspective anchored in a deep maritime knowledge, where it wants to claim the port, the shoreline and the sea, first as an urban landscape, where violent and traumatic collision happens but furthermore as a relevant space for design in all its complexity, tensions of scales and implications within the larger complex assemblage of the Mediterranean to the global world.

RC15|Samuel Lozeau-Laprise


image notes


Title of chapter

Fig. 7.16. Map of the new territorial complexity of the port landscape after phase IV of the project

RC15|Samuel Lozeau-Laprise


Fig. 7.17. The new landscape, where the port of Marseille-Fos take active part in the negotiation between land and sea


ADLER, G., BRITTAIN-CATLIN, T., FONTANA-GIUSTI, G. (2012) Scale: Imagination, Perception and Practice in Architecture, New York, Routledge ALEXANDER, C. (1977) A pattern language, New York, Oxford University Press BUIZER, M., B. ARTS, and K. KOK. ( 2011) Governance, scale, and the environment: the importance of recognizing knowledge claims in transdisciplinary arenas, Ecology and Society, XX(YY): ZZ CILLIERS, P. (1998) Complexity & Postmodernism: Understanding complex systems, New York, Routledge COMTOIS, C., RODRIGUE, J-P., SLACK, B. (2006) The Geography of Transport Systems, New York, Routledge FIREBRACE, W. (2010) Marseille Mix, London, Architectural Association Publications HARDT, M., NEGRI, A. (2000) Empire, Cambridge, Harvard University Press HARVEY, D. (2007) Cities or urbanization?, London, 1:1, 38-61 HIGHT, C. (2008) Architectural Principles in the Age of Cybernetics, New York, Routledge HOWITT, R. (1998) Scale as relation: Musical metaphors of geographical scale, Sydney, Area, 30.1, 49-58 LUCAS, P., BALLAY, J., McManus, M. (2012) Trillions: Thriving in the emerging information ecology, New Jersey, John Wilers & Sons JOLY, J. CHARMUSSY, H. (1969) Géographie du futur engagé : le port industriel de Fos-sur-Mer . In: Revue de géographie alpine, Tome 57 N°4. pp. 831-848. NEGRI, A., HARDT, M. (2000) Empire, Cambridge, Harvard University Press NOYS, B. (2014) Malign Velocities : Accelerationism & Capitalism, Whinchester, Zero Book ROSSI, A. (1982) The Architecture of the City, London, The MIT Press VENTURI, R. (1966) Complexity & Contradiction, New York, The Museum of Modert Art




Within urban design, the possibility arises to

With this in mind, the port city, as a design project entry

investigate different ideas and theories about the production

point, allows us to abstract two notions that are at the basis

and evolution of the human settlements in all its forms and in

of urban design. Coming out of our common understanding

relation to the territory. The spatial constructions that are taking

of the Mediterranean sphere we will look at the notions of

place today are established by an operative mechanism that

complexity and scale from the point of view of a designer. First,

is the result of an ever changing set of pressures from human

we will separately put together an understanding of both those

behaviours to economic forces and many more that morph the

notions within a large variety of literature. Subsequently, we will

way the urban is created.

construct an argumentation unveiling the correlation between those two crucial concepts. In order to achieve that, we will

The context of the Mediterranean environment,

look at many ideas expressed by theorists ranging from Paul

as a central point of study, sits in a complex post-industrial

Cilliers to David Harvey coming from a wide range of disciplines

landscape where, with a paradigmatic value, the Mediterranean

including philosophy and architecture in order to extract their

cities offer the opportunity to dive in the complex structure

arguments on complexity and scale that could be applied

on which they are built on: an intertwined series of layers of

within urban design. Then, we will use this understanding

culture, history, politics, and economy that have formed the

to examine three Mediterranean port city case studies from

countries and their cities we know today. This complex layering

different periods of modern history starting from the Eixample

can be approached and studied as a form of section in order

plan by Ildefonso CerdĂ in Barcelona, the plan Obus by Le

to unveil all the elements and unpack their interrelations. This

Corbusier in Algiers to the contemporary EuroMĂŠditerranĂŠe

process opens the opportunity to understand seriously these

project in Marseille. Finally the essay will take position on the

elements that govern space and could allow us to better make

importance of understanding and approaching complexity and

interventions. In the global world that we live in today, capitalist

scale in urban design projects.

orders and neoliberal regimes of power have established their reality. The port becomes an important apparatus of control and movement of the capitalist production, which is constantly generated and distributed on the world scale. This process is very much regulated from the simple barcode on each container to the complex global exchange trends. The port has also evolved in history to grow into an entity of unprecedented scale.

RC15|Samuel Lozeau-Laprise


Chapter 1 _ Complexity 1

P Cilliers, Complexity & Postmodernism: Understanding complex systems, Routledge, New York, 1998, p. ix 2

Cilliers, p. 2


Cilliers, p. viii


Cilliers, p. viii


C Alexander, A pattern language, Oxford University Press, New York, 1977, p. xiii 6

It could be said that complexity is part of every

discipline. It is indeed a concept that can be applied to many

crucial element of study but rather the relationships in between them and with other constituents outside the network.

situations and can be defined in diverse ways depending on the field of study. From a designer point of view we will focus

Another engaging vision of complexity showcasing the

into different understandings from cybernetics, architecture

importance of the relationships while studying a complex

and philosophy that could provide us with an insight on the

system is the one proposed by architect Christopher Alexander.

complexity within urban design.

In his book, A pattern language, he attempts to break down the complexity of architectural design and city planning to a

Alexander, p. xiii

From a contemporary perspective, the advancement in

series of components that can be associated, controlled and

computational calculation and computer database of the last

corrected individually. These simple sets of different repetitive

two decades has sparked new visions of complexity in the

patterns form what he calls a language, like a unifying code.

postmodernist world. The work of Paul Cilliers, gives us an

In an attempt to propose a flawless solution or definition for

insight of a philosophical understanding of complexity through

each pattern, he explains that his approach tried to capture the

the approach of computational theory. In his case, there is not

invariable elements, but that an infinite number of possibilities

a single faultless theory of complexity but instead he argues

can be achieved depending on the preference of the user of the

that to understand a complex element it requires the analysis

language or of the local conditions it is applied to.5 Alexander

of a series of other related complex systems that compose

agrees on the impact of a new creation within the relations

the first element of study. Within his research on complexity,

of complex systems and wants to make this complexity

he comes up with an important conclusion: complex systems

controllable and more logical. He states: â&#x20AC;&#x153;when you build a

are not only formed by the sum of their components, but

thing you cannot merely build that thing in isolation, but most

specifically by the intertwined relationships between all

also repair the world around it, within it, so that the larger world

His vision of complexity elaborates a

at that one place becomes more coherentâ&#x20AC;?.6 His theory within

very important point: the difference between complex and

the meaningful of the language, unveils as well the importance

complicated. He states that things like jumbo jet or computer

of relationship between elements forming complex systems.


the components.


are not complex but rather complicated because even by their large number of constituents, they can be explained by

The idea of relationship in the complexity of urbanisation

a complete description of their individual parts. On the other

can be linked to an economic standpoint by the work of

hand in the case of complexity, the interactions within the

economist David Harvey. He proposes a necessary vision of

organisation or the interactions with the environment cannot

the relationships between the economy, politics and the city.

be fully understood by simply studying its constituents. Here

In his article, Cities or Urbanization, he illustrates that the

the main characterisation of complexity is the network of

important elements that direct cities form and its architecture

interrelations, in which the details of each component is not the

are the economic and social aspects.7 Harvey exposes the




Correlation between complexity and scale in urban design

idea that the city is a capitalist production and he states that:

7 D Harvey, Cities or urbanization?, London, 1:1, 3861, 2007, p. 39-41

“For this reason I believe it is not only useful to think of but also


important to recognize that we are all embroiled in a global

Harvey, p. 46


R Venturi, Complexity & Contradiction, The Museum of Modern Art, New York, 1966, p. 24

process of capitalist urbanization”.8 From this, he expresses the entanglement of the economy and political decisions in the


production of the architecture that embodies the physical city.

Venturi, p.26

Back to an architectural point of view, the ideology of Venturi offers an interesting vision of complexity as relationship inside the construction of an architectural structure. In the context of the 60’s his argument about complexity mainly refers to the problematic of juggling with many different new modern needs of a building.9 He mentions: “Complexity is part of the program and the structure of the whole rather than a device justified only by the desire of expression. Though we no longer argue over the primacy of form and function (which follows which?), we cannot ignore their interdependence”.10

This notion of

relationship can also be exposed in his work not only in terms of form versus function but likewise in terms of the relation between the architecture, the site and its environment. All of those researches introduce in the concept of complexity, the importance of the notion of relationships. But more importantly all insist on the importance of grasping the relationship between the elements in order to apprehend complexity and try to propose a theory to regulate it. Perhaps looking at complexity within the physical city, a little bit of truth can be found in all of those potential definitions, but the goal is not to come up with a perfect definition but rather to get an understanding of how complexity, in terms of relationship and impacts, operates within the layering forces creating today’s urban.

RC15|Samuel Lozeau-Laprise


Chapter 2 _ Scale 11 G Adler, T Brittain-Catlin, G Fontana-Giusti, Scale: Imagination, Perception and Practice in Architecture, Routledge, New York, 2012, p. 1 12 M Buizer, B Arts and K Kok, Governance, scale, and the environment: the importance of recognizing knowledge claims in transdisciplinary arenas, Ecology and Society, XX(YY): ZZ, 2011, p. 3 13

Gibson et al, 2000, cited in Buizer, Arts and KOK, 2011, p. 3


Buizer, Arts and KOK, p. 12


R Howitt, Scale as relation: Musical metaphors of geographical scale, Area, 30.1, 49-58, Sydney, 1998, p. 51

Scale in itself is a very ambivalent term. From the

From a geographic standpoint the work of Richard Howitt is

outlook of architects, scale has always been taken for granted

critical to allow us to expand our analysis of scale on a territorial

as something that you learn through your studies in architectural

level. For him, scale is mainly defined by three crucial metaphoric

school. Outside the drawing scale, this includes the idea of

views of scale: size, level and relation. In this situation, the idea

scale in terms of impacts in relation to the settings of a physical

of size is applicable in terms of the description of an element


site or on the psychological level of its users or observers.

of the same proportion or a more graphical representation,

From a designer point of view we will abstract the notion of scale

for example the scale used to represent different information

looking into disciplines like geography, economics and politics

regarding the precise level of a scaled map.15 Secondly, the

to get insight of scale within urban design.

idea of level is translated, as a series of level of complexity or more precisely of level of hierarchy in a pyramidal layout


Howitt, p. 51

The political scale has been evolving in the post-modernist

regarding size and impacts.16 But for him this perspective is


Howitt, p. 51

and capitalist world to include complex social dynamics and

inadequate to represent the inter scale links between the levels


Howitt, p. 50

environmental issues. In terms of decision making it means

of hierarchies. So thirdly, he proposes the view of scale as a

that an intervention at the spatial level can trigger unforeseen

relation, to be the best metaphor to explain scale, in addition

reactions on other scales. Buizer, Arts, Kok in their essay:

with the two other metaphors of size and level. This metaphor

Governance, Scale and the Environment: The Importance

needs to analyse diverse elements between geopolitics,

of recognizing knowledge claims in trans-disciplinary arena,

culture, economy or society within a same specific scale, in

express the importance of the difference between level and

order to clearly define it.17 He also mentions how the terms we

scale. For them, the term level is constraint inside a certain scale

use as analogy for different types of geographical scale, like


comparable to different unit measure within a same scale.

local, regional, national or global have become normalized as

Whereas scale is considered as a spatial, temporal or quantitative

simple categories and are not anymore the center of analytical


dimension used to measure and study a given phenomenon.

or political relations but have come to be seen as individual

They present for example the case of climate change, to

categories treated separately.18 Here scale is presented as a

elucidate this distinction but also to illustrate the repercussion of

tool to break down a larger complexity and allow the specific

an intervention at a given scale. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Climate change is considered

relationship of these elements within one scale.

a typical global problem that needs to be studied at the global level of the spatial scale, while coping with it requires diplomacy

This perspective of relationship and tool apropos of scale


can be extracted from the architectural work done by

this political perspective, scale appears as a tool to break down

Christopher Hight, in his exploration of the debate of scale

a phenomenon in order to better study it or interact within it. The

and proportion within the renowned Golden Section and the

notion of governance can be applied at certain scale and have

Modulor of Le Corbusier. He exposes the relation that the

impacts amongst all the others.

Modulor measurement system brings between architecture

at the intergovernmental level at the jurisdictional scaleâ&#x20AC;?.



Correlation between complexity and scale in urban design

and sciences to express that architecture takes constantly

All these point of views on scale open in the larger conception

knowledge from the domain of other disciplines like science,

of scale, the importance of the relations between different

Le Corbusier, in his consideration of

scales and the fact that it is a tool to help us study or control

the human body, has the ultimate measuring scale introduced


C Hight,Architectural Principles in the Age of Cybernetics, Routledge, New York, 2008, p. 160-161


Hight, p. 162

a certain phenomenon. More importantly looking at all these


Hight, p. 162

an understanding of global order where economic movement

views reveals the importance of being able to switch between


Hight, p. 169

and communication collapse geographic distances and

scales to understand phenomenon and the impacts it can have


Hight, p. 172

To use Le Corbusier words: “Everything

at multiple scales. Perhaps looking at the scale of the physical


Hight, p. 180


city and its components allows to reveal the complexity of


Hight, p. 180

the use of the Modulor as a tool of design, Le Corbusier

the built environment in relation with all the scales from the

believed it could have impacted larger scales, like triggered

engineering details to the global politics.

nature and philosophy.

political boundaries.



is exchanged, linked, interlinked above nationalities”.


social changes by modifying the dimensions of the architectural scale. Hight also showcases the fascination by Le Corbusier for larger scales. The abstraction of a point of view taken from a 90 degree far away view of a site or city, for example from an airplane; where things are not anymore seen from within but where the subject actually becomes an observer that sees its patterns and forms revealing a reality that would in other cases escape the human senses.22 Le Corbusier in his book Concerning Town Planning mentions his consideration for larger scale norms by saying about the design of cities: “(the cities) must be subject to the laws of gravity, to the laws of human biology, to the laws of nature, and to cosmic laws…under such conditions man will find himself, and communities will become effective bodies”.23 Hight sees in the work of Le Corbusier and the creation of the modulator an attempt to regulate “an ecology of systems as an interface”.24 This regulation would have been patented in order to allow the architects to control all scales and gain ownership on the protocol of market and or politics through the use of the human body.25

RC15|Samuel Lozeau-Laprise


Chapter 3 _ Correlation between complexity and scale 26

Alexander, p. xiii

After unveiling a larger perspective of the definition

illustrate the composition of different complex systems from


Cilliers, p. 5

of complexity and scale separately through a literature review

the economy to the snowflake, that different scales of vision


Venturi, p.27

coming from a series of fields, it is necessary to look at the

reflect different layers of information. He states: “Consider a


Hight, p. 165

correlation between the two elements. They do need to be

snowflake. From a distance it appears to be a pretty simple


Hight, p. 165

studied in mutual relation, mainly because complexity is on

object, but when we examine it closer it reveals remarkable

one hand easier to unpack if approached on different scales

detail”.27 From his architectural vision, Venturi also approaches

and on the other hand, looking at different scales allows the

this correlation between complexity and scale when making

visioning of diverse connections, part of a larger complexity.

this statement: “those programs, unique in our time, which are complex because of their scope, such as research

Looking back at our findings through the work of Christopher

laboratories, hospitals, and particularly the enormous projects

Alexander, the idea of the pattern to unveil and understand

at the scale of city and regional planning. But even the house,

complexity relates to a notion of scale. Firstly it allows him

simple in scope, is complex in purpose if the ambiguities of

to measure and evaluate specific elements corresponding

contemporary experience are expressed”.28 In sum, smaller

to specific spatial or quantitate matters, and secondly to

scale objects possess their own level of complexity in the way

categorise them, in order to be more easily manipulated. In

they function, likewise larger objects like the city also possess

his language, patterns are structuring a network where all the

their own complexity but are formed of smaller other complex

patterns are interconnected from the biggest to the smallest.

objects as well as being part of a larger scale like the country

The same way Buizer, Arts, Kok (2011) have showed us that

or the society.


scale can become a political tool to measure and manipulate certain phenomenon. This governance is constituted of

On the other hand, Christopher Hight expresses the correlation

decision making specifically targeting certain scales in order to

of complexity and scale in a relation of control. He mentions

impact the rest of a complex system, for example a country or

the creation of Taylorism and its arrival in France as a powerful

international trades.

example of manipulation of an object at a smaller scale in order to achieve a certain goal on a larger scale.29 Those

On this note, complexity is in fact embedded within every

studies of the human body in order to make the operational

scale. The argumentations of Cilliers (1998) and Howtit (1998)

process faster at the individual level were intended to make the

in both their respective vision of complexity and scale comes

industrial machine work better as a whole. But, it was also a

in parallels when both authors emphasize the crucial idea to

way to endeavour the instauration of a moral code that would

focus on the relations between elements. Complexity can be

have controlled social order by making an intervention at the

observed at different scales of analysis and at each of them

human body scale.30

presents different layers of information with diverse precisions. As Cilliers has tried to express using many examples to


Correlation between complexity and scale in urban design

All things considered, complexity and scale are two concepts

Chapter 4.1 _ The Eixample plan of Cerda


T Hall, Planning Europeâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Capital Cities: Aspects of Nineteenth-Century Urban Development, Routledge, New York, 2003, p. 148-149

that are always intertwined. From a designer point of view scale can be a tool that helps us breakdown complexity in a clearer

The project of Idelfonso Cerda proposed in 1860 is

vision. But it also means that on the other hand, an intervention

well known and has been the case of many studies within the

at a specific scale will also have repercussion in the larger

field of urban design. As what might be considered the first


major planned urban design operation, this project unveils an

32 Aibar, Bijker, Constructing a City: The Cerda Plan for the Extension of Barcelona, Science, Technology, & Human Values, Vol. 22, No. 1, 1997, p. 11 33

Aibar, Bijker, p. 12

attempt to solve complex 19th century problems like hygiene Chapter 4 _ Unveiling complexity and scale

and salubrity within the setting of the old city and its rapid

through three Mediterranean case studies

industrialisation. The fact that the plan was even realised demonstrates an ability by Cerda to navigate the political

The analysis of complexity and scale through a

complexity of the time by the fact that he bypassed the local

literature review and their correlation as allowed the extraction

competition for the expansion and got support from the central

of a general understanding of those notions. This abstraction

government in Madrid.31

of both concepts needs to be brought back and evaluated within the physical city to grasp their implication in urban

The complex relationship between the political control of the

design. In order to accomplish that, this essay will take a look

city and the urbanisation of the territory also relate to the

at three case studies of urban design proposal within three

scale of the Eixample plan. For the city council of the time,

different Mediterranean major port cities. The goal here is not

the extension plan proposed was a favorable circumstance

to produce a specific description of these projects but rather

to proclaim identity and regain control on the city from the

to showcase the presence of complexity and scale within their

Spanish government despite local opposition.32

conception, located in geographically different Mediterranean

different social groups the grid division of the plan allowed to

settings and in contrasting periods of modern history. The three

engage in a complex racial and political control battle between

projects consist of a chronologic evolution, starting from the

the different social groups via alliance and acquisition of

19th century with the Eixample plan in Barcelona, then moving

property ownership.33

For many

to the 20th century with the proposed project of the Plan Obus in Algiers to end with the contemporary port redevelopment

The plan by Cerda was also an attempt to simplify the

produced by the EuroMĂŠditterranĂŠe project in Marseille.

complexity of the city to a set of controllable parameters. As he structures it General theory of Urbanisation, the city can be reduced to only five categories: technical, legal, economic, administrative, and political. The plan attempted to transform the chaotic formation of the old city into a new form of urban control composed of precise dimensions and regulations.

RC15|Samuel Lozeau-Laprise



Aibar, Bijker, p. 16

Cerda addresses this reduction of complexity by founding his

regionalisation of industrial production and his will to make


Hall, p. 154

ideology on scientific principles. For example, he produced

of Algiers, via the Plan Obus, the capital of North Africa.36

an intricate formula to determine the dimension of the blocs

This new capital would have been part of a larger network of

36 B Ackley, Blocking the Casbah: Le Corbusier’s Algerian Fantasy,, n.d. (Accessed 17 April 2014) 37

M Lamprakos, M. Le Corbusier and Algiers. The Plan Obus as colonial urbanism, in N Alsayyad, Form of dominance: On the Architecture and Urbanism of the Colonial enterprise, Avebury, Aldershot, 1992, p. 198 Lamprakos, p. 198


H Pouliot, “Machine for living” Reflections on Le Corbusier’s Plan Obus (Algiers) & Unité d’habitation (Marseilles), SHIFT Graduate Journal of Visual and Material Culture, Issue 4, 2011, p. 3 41

As Hall puts it: “Cerda saw planning as

Pouliot, p. 3

Mediterranean cities like Barcelona, Marseille and Rome.37

a technique to be used for finding functionally optimal solution, based on the scientific analysis of the collected data”.35

B Ackley



forming the grid plan.


The proposed project by Le Corbusier consisted of a monumental skyscraper as a central business center in the city

The Cerda plan is a great example of the implication of

centre connected with a 100 foot high viaduct to a series of

complexity within scale in an urban project. His large scaled

concave and convex residential elements in the suburbs for

master plan for Barcelona integrated a rigorous approach to the

the middle and upper class. This viaduct would have bi-passed

smallest engineering details all the way to his understanding

the remaining of the old city formed of traditional vernacular

of larger political moves that needed to be played in order

Casbah.38 The project also incorporated a serpentine roadway

to get the project going. Small scale details like dimensions

incorporating housing for the working class creating a linear

of the streets and blocs had the purpose to regulate on the

city networked around central Algiers and its suburbs.39

large scale the flow of movement and property ownership. This strong understanding of the smallest thing within the biggest

This project exposes a new approach to complexity where

led through time that the rules set by the Cerda plan have

in a network of countries connected in exchanges of all kind

constraint and influenced the evolution of the city even until

with colonies; the need to control this socio-politic complexity

contemporary times.

is primordial. In this context the sociopolitical values of the colonial French government are imposed within the scale

Chapter 4.2 _ The plan Obus by Le Corbusier

of architecture in order to control the Algerian people. This results in a proposed plan by Le Corbusier to structure the

The proposal of the Plan Obus in 1933 emerged after

complexity of space in the city unlike the traditional unregulated

Le Corbusier first visited Algiers for the centennial celebration

Casbah. The ideology proposed by Le Corbusier of housing

of the French occupation in Algeria. Unlike the Eixample plan

as a “machine of living”40 is another attempt to simplify the

of Barcelona, very much localised to Barcelona itself, the

complexity of the city into a pragmatic vision of architecture

plan Obus for Algiers even though never realised presented

composed of elements that only needs to be assembled. In

awareness by Le Corbusier of a larger scale vision where

this he believed that fabricating the most individual units of

cities are interconnected. This colonial project had in fact clear

architecture, the dwelling, via the principles of the Modulor

implications in the complex attempt to control population on

could have the power to structure the complexity of not only

a global scale by the French government. This larger scale

the city but of society in general and how people interact.41 As

is reflected by Le Corbusier within his ideology of modern

Lazreg puts it: “In its de facto imposition of Western models


Correlation between complexity and scale in urban design

of family life the housing cells of the plan Obus would have


transformed the Muslim population into willing participants in

In this setting, the project unveils its complexity by the number

the bourgeois city – that is, good consumers”.

of actors and organisms taking part in the decision making


but also by the multitude of diverse capital being injected in This reveals a new approach to conceive complexity where

the project by public and mainly private organisations from

methods of control are integrated at new scales and connected

around the globe. The project includes the construction of an

with other networks in a colonial world. Looking at the Plan

important numbers of new office spaces, new residential units,

Obus reveals the complex intermingles between colonial

park spaces, public and private cultural buildings as well as the

politics, racial and class segregation within the scale of

restoration of major arteries like the Rue de la République.44

architecture in order to impact the city and the greater society.

But all put together, the project still is an assemblage of distinct smaller scale real-estate projects that have large scale

Chapter 4.3 _ The EuroMéditerranée project in

implications. For example, the recently built new CMA-CGM


tower designed by architect Zaha Hadid is the new headquarter of the third largest cargo carrier in the world and wants to be

In the present time, neo-liberal regimes of power have

the new architectural beacon of the city of Marseille.45 In a

established themselves over a highly globalised world where

similar case the new construction of the MuCEM at the edge of

everything is part of a new decentralised and de-territorialized

the old port is a small scale architectural project with touristic

complexity. In this new world wide scale, the EuroMéditerranée

repercussions for Marseille and a political move by the French

project is an attempt to generate and control a complex will

government to decentralise culture infrastructures outside of

of economic growth where the urban project has become


M Lazreg, The Emergence of Classes in Algeria, Westview Press, 1976, cited in M Lamprakos, M. Le Corbusier and Algiers. The Plan Obus as colonial urbanism, in N Alsayyad, Form of dominance: On the Architecture and Urbanism of the Colonial enterprise, Avebury, Aldershot, 1992, p. 199-201 43

E Swyngedouw, F Moulaert and A Rodriguez, Neoliberal Urbanization in Europe: Large-Scale Urban Development Projects and the New Urban Policy, Oxford, Blackwell Publishing, 2002, p. 548 44

EPAEM (EuroMéditerranée Urban Development Agency), EuroMéditerranée Marseille. Heartbeat of an historic Mediterranean city,, 2010 (Accessed 18 April 2014), p.1 45

EPAEM (EuroMéditerranée Urban Development Agency), Cité de la Méditerranée,, n.d. (Accessed 20 April 2014) 46

EPAEM (EuroMéditerranée Urban Development Agency), Cité de la Méditerranée,, n.d. (Accessed 20 April 2014) 47

EPAEM (EuroMéditerranée Urban Development Agency), EuroMéditerranée Marseille. Heartbeat of an historic Mediterranean city,, 2010 (Accessed 18 April 2014), p.11

a city wide economic tool to brand and position the city of Marseille as a specific point of attraction within the world

All of these small scale projects reveal an implication to

map. This new neoliberal urbanisation has created a new set

satisfy the demands and needs of private corporations or

of complex relations between the economical, the political

public agencies, all of which are juxtaposed in a single

and the physical. Swyngedouw et al. in their analysis of the

large scale project that form what is EuroMéditerranée. But

phenomenon confirms that local authorities in conglomerate

under its capitalist agenda, the project also coats itself with

with the private sector: “have strongly relied on the planning

the promotion of sustainable living and the integration of

and implementation of large-scale urban development projects

green public space. These integrate new technology in the

{…} as part of an effort to re-enforce the competitive position of

construction details, for example, that reduces energy or water

their metropolitan economies in a context of rapidly changing

consumption.47 Within the larger urban project these micro

local, national, and global competitive conditions”.43

scale details serve a very clever and important marketing role to make appeal in all the scope of society. This reveals a new

RC15|Samuel Lozeau-Laprise


reality where the urban design project unveils itself as part of

and develop projects that are willing to change or improve

a global complex movement of capital requiring it to become

today’s contemporary complexity. In today’s reality, sources

a productive real estate enterprise. In this setting, all scales

of information are infinite and allow for everything to be

integrate forms of measures and control allowing to make sure

controllable from a simple internet address, to a container,

that financial viability can be achieved as a whole and become

to our own body movement within space. In this context, our

a new standard.

design approaches shouldn’t try to reinvent the wheel but rather have the cleverness to navigate, on all scales, within this

Chapter 5 _ Implications within urban design

continually evolving complexity to create more ethical spaces.

The analysis of the three case studies has showed a

When looking at the context of a port city, this understanding

precise insight of how complexity emerges in correlation with

of the phenomenon of complexity through scale can help us

scale through these urban design proposals. In each of the

to unveil how the port has modified its form and adapted its

case studies proposed in its own time period and historical

location to the economical and socio political demands of the

settings can be interpreted as the integration of different scales

global realities as well has modified the surrounding urban

while all tried to contain and control the complexity that they

settings of both the territory and the city. The understanding of

were part of. The Eixample in Barcelona was about regulating

the theories from the literature challenges our responsibility as

the flows of the new city and its expansion as well as giving a

urban designers: to understand the urban operating process

disciplinary order to the urbanisation of the empty territory. For

on all scales and throught time in order to design clever

the Plan Obus in Algiers, the project was an experiment from

projects that are embedded in the urban complexity.

the vision of a colonial power wanting to control a subordinate population through architecture. In the recent years, a project

Thus, in this inquiry of the correlation between complexity

like EuroMéditerranée in Marseille has unveiled a new kind of

and scale within urban design both surveys of abstraction

control within a more neoliberal economy that impacts all the

of these two notions highlight the wide range of thinking on


those subjects. From a wide range of points of view within the literature, from different disciplines and with a variety of


Acquiring this knowledge of the incredible relationships

thinkers like Cilliers and Venturi it can be said that correlation

between the culture, the history, the politics, and the economy

exists between complexity and scale. On one hand, complexity

forming the urban can become a form of power to give

in all the cases refers to the understanding of the relationships

urban design projects a meaning in all scales. As history

between different elements in a system where they function

has proven, perhaps there is no complete way to master

with other exterior systems. On the second hand, it introduces

and control complexity within all the scales. But perhaps the

scale as a tool to vision different levels of information in relation

goal shouldn’t be to achieve this perfection but rather to find

to a complexity that transcends all the scales.

Correlation between complexity and scale in urban design

This clear correlation revealed between complexity and scale, shows the necessity to observe and study both notions in parallel when talking about the urban. The investigation of those notions in three historical case studies with the Eixample plan in Barcelona, the Plan Obus in Algiers and the EuroMĂŠditerranĂŠe project in Marseille have allowed us to extract physical examples of the integration of complexity and scale in an urban design project. It opened up the type of relationships that needed to be studied and understood not only at the urban scale but also from the architectural to the global scales, all showcasing the importance in urban design to grasps the political and economic situations and their attempt to control and regulate the built environment. In conclusion, in looking to propose a design intervention in relation with the port and its surrounding spaces, this extracted knowledge of complexity and scale as well as their correlation can be applied to the layering of the post-industrial landscape of the Mediterranean cities. Within this process opens the opportunity for the urban designer to understand seriously all the layers that govern space and allows us to make better interventions that are not banal but deeply rooted in the specific organizational patterns. Moreover, this knowledge of complexity and scale through time might initiate new ways to not only try to control either only to make profitable the new global complexity within the use of scale but to actually manage this complexity in a more ethical way.

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ACKLEY, B. n.d. Blocking the Casbah: Le Corbusier’s Algerian Fantasy (online). blocking-the-casbah-le-corbusiers-algerian-fantasy-by-brian-ackley/ {Accessed 17 April 2014} ADLER, G., BRITTAIN-CATLIN, T., FONTANA-GIUSTI, G. (2012) Scale: Imagination, Perception and Practice in Architecture, New York, Routledge AIBAR, E., BIJKER, W. (1997) Constructing a City: The Cerda Plan for the Extension of Barcelona, Science, Technology, & Human Values, Vol. 22, No. 1 (Winter, 1997), pp. 3-30 ALEXANDER, C. (1977) A pattern language, New York, Oxford University Press BUIZER, M., B. ARTS, and K. KOK. ( 2011) Governance, scale, and the environment: the importance of recognizing knowledge claims in transdisciplinary arenas, Ecology and Society, XX(YY): ZZ CILLIERS, P. (1998) Complexity & Postmodernism: Understanding complex systems, New York, Routledge EPAEM (EuroMéditerranée Urban Development Agency). n.d. Cité de la Méditerranée (online). {Accessed 20 April 2014} EPAEM (EuroMéditerranée Urban Development Agency). (2010) EuroMéditerranée Marseille. Heartbeat of an historic Mediterranean city (online), 2010, {Accessed 18 April 2014} HALL, T. (2003) Planning Europe’s Capital Cities: Aspects of Nineteenth-Century Urban Development, New York, Routledge HARDT, M., NEGRI, A. (2000) Empire, Cambridge, Harvard University Press HARVEY, D. (2007) Cities or urbanization?, London, 1:1, 38-61 HIGHT, C. (2008) Architectural Principles in the Age of Cybernetics, New York, Routledge HOWITT, R. (1998) Scale as relation: Musical metaphors of geographical scale, Sydney, Area, 30.1, 49-58 LAMPRAKOS, M. Le Corbusier and Algiers. The Plan Obus as colonial urbanism, in ALSAYYAD, N. (1992) Form of dominance: On the Architecture and Urbanism of the Colonial enterprise, Avebury, Aldershot, p. 182 to 210

POULIOT, H. (2011) “Machine for living” Reflections on Le Corbusier’s Plan Obus (Algiers) & Unité d’habitation (Marseilles), SHIFT Graduate Journal of Visual and Material Culture, Issue 4 ROSSI, A. (1982) The Architecture of the City, London, The MIT Press SWYNGEDOUW, E., MOULAERT, F., RODRIGUEZ, A. (2002) Neoliberal Urbanization in Europe: Large-Scale Urban Development Projects and the New Urban Policy, Oxford, Blackwell Publishing VENTURI, R. (1966) Complexity & Contradiction, New York, The Museum of Modert Art


This archive integrates a series of 10 drawings, 10 images and 10 documents that expresses the notion of complexity and scale within the essay but also expands the essay visually by integrating projects or discussions that are not directly referenced in the essay.

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2 _ Distribution of towns

38 _ Row houses

41 _ Work community

116 _ Cascade of roofs

162 _ North face

190 _ Ceiling height variety

207 _ Good materials

217 _ Perimeter beams

253 _ Things from your life

Fig. 8.1. Selection of 9 patterns from Christopher Alexander Christopher Alexander in his book A pattern language showcased a series of 253 â&#x20AC;&#x153;patternsâ&#x20AC;? to explain the complexity of the build environment from the regional scale to the construction detail scale. Source: ALEXANDER, C. (1977) A pattern language, New York, Oxford University Press e notes


History & Theory Archive

Fig. 8.2. Le modulor by Le Corbusier Source: morphogenetic-metaphors-in-architecture-the-quixotic-contributions-of-conrad-waddington/

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Fig. 8.3. Assembly of jumbo 747-8i Paul Cilliers explain the distinction between something that is complex versus something that is complicated. He states that for example a jumbo jet is rather not a complex thing but is a complicated assemblage because even by the large range and number of parts, all of these parts can be explain with a complete individual description and their clear description of their purpose in the assemblage.



History & Theory Archive

Fig. 8.4. Screenshots from Power of Ten Power of ten video produced in 1977 is a clever example of how looking at a single element, in this a couple having lunch in the park (scale 0) can reveal a large quantity of information on smaller scale or larger scale, all of which showcase the complexity in which the couple having lunch in the park operates. Source: Powers of Ten Š 1977 Eames Office LLC

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Beyond the Avant-Garde: Cities, Architecture & Art Production Detroit: Industrial Punk, Industrial Ruins & Mike Kelley MARTA KRUGER SAMUEL LOZEAU - LAPRISE The first exercise seeks to investigate case studies from the history of the last six decades, where cities, whole regions and social formations have been discussed within the field of architecture and the art in a paradigmatic way. The title implies an entry point to the discussion on a specific city, which would have to extend until the contemporary time and discuss the narratives and the perceptions that these significant projects created in a longer period of time. In many cases, the ideas about the city, architecture and art production extended far beyond the given entry point or the particular historic moment. Eventually, we are discussing here paradigmatic cultural propositions, within which a particular notion about what the city is, how it is occupied and how it is experienced challenged fundamental perceptions and categorizations.

For this exercise we decided to analyze the work of Mike Kelley

Fig. 8.5. Detroit Energy Asylum

within the frame of the underground punk industrial scene that

Fig. 8.6. The city of Kandor, Mike Kelley, 2007.

flourished in the 1970â&#x20AC;&#x2122;s in Detroit. In those years the city was

Fig. 8.7. Ruin Porn in Detroit.

going through a steep continuing economic decline, after being one of the major American population centers and worldwide automobile manufacturing. The work of Mike Kelley and the industrial punk movement were fed by the failure of the American dream and produced art that was strikingly opposed to the mainstream culture. They found an ideal habitat in the abandoned factories whose decaying atmosphere influenced the whole imaginary they were referring to. If Kelley on one hand was producing artworks using objects and techniques- his assemblage with broken objects, almost garbage, are definitely remarkable- very far from the traditional idea of aesthetic, on the other hand proto punk and punk bands were experimenting new rhythms boosted by a series of noises but also new instruments like the revolutionary drum machine, still in use today. To be provocative was their main goal, whether it was during their concerts hosted in abandoned factories, whether it was with art pieces that mainly used the body and object to manipulate and sabotage mass-produced ideologies. Our aim, for the exercise, was to sabotage through the eye of architecture the idea of the city of Detroit. Abandonment and decay represented as the only things above the ground to question the idea of what will be the ruins of tomorrow. This is why we decided to represent the city of Detroit by subverting the order of thing. The ground level works as a reflecting surface above which all the ruins and abandoned buildings are, opposite to the buildings still in use that lay underground.

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Fig. 8.9. This image shows our interpretation of the situation in Detroit and questions the idea of what will be the ruins of the future.


Detroit: Industrial Punk, Industrial Ruins & Mike Kelley

Fig. 8.10. Ruins in Detroit: the Central Train Station. Fig. 8.11. Higgy Pop during one of his concerts in the 1970â&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Fig. 8.12. Mike Kelleyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Self Portrait, 1985

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Institutions, cities, events and urban operations: From the construction of knowledge to gentrification Marseille: The Euroméditerranée, La Villa Méditerranée & the Cultural Capital of Europe MARTA KRUGER SAMUEL LOZEAU - LAPRISE The exercise investigates 10 paradigmatic case studies of institutions related with well-known urban regeneration projects or/and significantly important approaches to architectural and art projects and the production of knowledge within the two disciplines. Not all case studies are the same, or have the same value, instrumentality of performativity. Intentionally, we included large, art corporations like the Tate, MoMA and Centre Pompidou, recent projects from Marseille, Athens and Barcelona, or almost ‘invisible’ institutions that have transformed East London or Berlin in the recent years. A unique case is the Institute for Architecture and Urban Studies, which, in its two very distinctive periods, defined forms of knowledge produced about the city, architecture and contemporary art in the East coast, North American academia. The purpose of the exercise is to investigate the function of these institutions, to present the vast complexity of their operations, the historic, political and social context that produced them as well important moments and instrumental projects from their history. The students have to present how the function of these institutions is related to the city and the narratives of the urban formation that inhabit in key moments. The presentation should be made with original drawings, maps, sketches, images by the students, as well as archival material.

Following the exercise on the city of Detroit, we analysed a

creation of the Villa Méditerranée Complex and the museum

Mediterranean. Like Detroit it also has a past deeply anchored

of European and Mediterranean Civilisations. Affiliated with a

in industrial development and has been struggling for the last

series of ‘mainstream major partners’, unfortunately, it seems

30 to 40 years with similar economic and social problems.

to have no real connection with the actual Marseille subculture,

The aim of our presentation was to show the Marseille’s inner

that find its roots in the life of the banlieue. For that reason a

ambiguities and contradictions. The struggle became even

large part of the population and the artistic community feels

more challenging when Marseille was nominated in 2013 The

excluded from the structure of the project. Many artists, like for

European Capital of Culture.

example rap writer and singer Keny Arkana, explicitly referred to this situations in their artistic production.

In this context, the settings that have framed the urban growth of Marseille are very characteristic. Throughout its history, bounded by the Mediterranean Sea on one side and by mountains on the other, the city developed with a very dense center and a compact periphery. Marseille is in fact very unique because it has no disperse banlieue like other major French cities like Paris or Lyon. Social entities collide and work together in relatively the same packed urban spaces where places of worship, soccer clubs or even the drug trade are embedded in this complex social network. Marseille is also a crossroad. Since its birth before the antiquity, the port city has been established as a threshold of exchange, a port where people & goods transited. Since the creation of The European Capital of Culture in 1985, the projects started in Marseille are the most impressive projects ever undertaken via this pan European financing. The EuroMéditerranée project has the will to place Marseille at the same level than the biggest city in Europe by creating thousands of new flats, office spaces, commercial spaces, cultural institutions, medical centers and more right in the center of the city, where land meets sea. One of the most important goals of the project was the

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Fig. 8.13. Maps showing how Marseille grew in time, gradually expanding, from phase to phase, beyond the city walls.


Marseille: The Euroméditerranée, La Villa Méditerranée and the Cultural Capital of Europe

Fig. 8.14. and 8.15. Two opposite faces of Marseille. The Euromediterranee (top) versus the Marseille based rapper Keny Arkana.

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Workshops on Representation WITH Viktor Viktor Timofeev & THE collaboratION OF Penelope Haralambidou SAMUEL LOZEAU - LAPRISE While the initial ideas are taking shape, the cluster will run two workshops on representation and basic visual skills. We want these to take place in parallel with the evolution of the project and not as independent visual studies exercises. This way, the students will be asked to enforced their concept/mechanism by precise drawings and architectural/urban representations The workshops will include exercises on drawing/composition, collage, photoshop, illustrator, aftereffects, premiere and the programme 1,2,3D Catch that allows for a three-dimensional registration of objects and spaces through photography. Fundamental projects from the history of architecture and art will be discussed and students are also encouraged to bring examples, things they like, hate, study to present in the studio.

This exercise on representation permitted an exploratory approach on drawing complex concepts that are present in 2 dimensions in real life. The drawing tries to showcase within the use of the section and the container the complex political and economic moves of import/export of culture, art or architecture. It also tries to represent through the representation of the section the many layers of information that can be unveiled.

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Fig. 8.16. Drawing exploring the concept of urban vs port using the container


Representation workshop

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Introduction London is not a planned city. Although many areas have been consciously designed, it is not a city of grand designs. It has been shaped over time by disparate, often random events and individuals and the result is a layered city of enormous architectural, social, economic and cultural diversity. It is a true patchwork city. In this project we want you to explore the diversity of London’s urban form and the diversity of its neighbourhoods. London is not unique in this diversity. Most cities display characteristics of wealth disparity, architectural style and cultural composition. What makes London unusual is that these variations are highly compressed into very small areas of the city. These areas are loosely defined by a series of urban edges, real or psychological. Between these districts there may be a very significant difference in life expectations and opportunity. Surprisingly the whole coexists remarkably well. This is the framework in which the urban designer will find him/herself working within a mature city’s conditions. These areas not only provide the design context, they also effectively provide the client for whom the designer is working. Objectives You will divide into 8 working groups, at your own discretion. Each group will undertake a transit, a walk through a part of London, roughly in a straight line, and will examine the urban conditions. The walks have been chosen to illustrate some of the constituent elements of London in terms of its historic development, its architecture, its urban form and the social, cultural and economic diversity of its neighbourhoods. The transits are around 6-8 kilometers in length and should take approximately 4 hours to complete. An i ndicative route will be given but students may divert from this if they wish. At the same time students should consider how they can “engage” with the areas and in order to better understand them. Each transit is different in character, but the underlying themes are common. Specific objectives are: 1. To introduce students to London and each other 2. To get the students used to group working and collaboration 3. To test students’s ability to research, understand and analyse a piece of city and distill this into a narrative. 4. To test creativity and presentational skills. Output Each group will produce a 5 minute video film encapsulating their particular transit.

RC|15 VIDEO For this group exercise we selected the transit that started

Usually, the ‘borders’ or the ‘boundaries’ are perceived not as ‘places’ but rather as ‘empty spaces’. With the concept of ‘place’ we define all those areas that are characterized by an intense and continuous human presence as well as intense and visible activity and clear role.

from the Bartlett and ended in Finsbury Park. Our approach to present our perception of the different and diverse areas that we were penetrating was to create the journey of an imaginary character, Miss Witherspoon, from which we would present with images and videos all the environment she was walking through. Miss Witherspoon has been living at the Blackstock Mews near Finsbury Park for the past 10 years. While using the tube to get to her job at Euston Station, she only experiences the city at the underground level. But what if she didn’t use the tube in order to perceive the different layers composing the image of the city?

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Fig. 8.17. Screenshots extracted from the unit video.


London workshops|Exercise 1

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LONDON WORKSHOPS EXERCISE 2 Fan Tian Aikaterini Giokari Maritina Koutsoukou Marta Kruger Samuel Lozeau- Laprise Neighbourhood analysis This is the second of the introductory design exercises. It develops the theme of urban diversity explored in the transits exercise. Small distinctive neighbourhoods are one of the basic components of British cities. They have distinct centres (a concentration of commercial and retail premises) that serve a specific hinterland that might be very local, or in the case of Oxford Street, regional. As such they have traditionally been the building blocks of civic life and community identity. They also tend to be the centre of transport networks. The neighbourhood is remarkably resilient but the advent of car based out of town shopping, ethnic and cultural change, the growth of the internet and inner urban decline have all put significant strain on districts. They are struggling to re define themselves for the conditions of the 21st. century. Some are still prosperous others display high levels of deprivation and a deteriorated physical environment. At worse some were the focus of civil unrest and rioting in 2011. These fragmented pieces of city pose significant challenges for the designer. They are in a state of flux, some gentrifying and others declining. There are winners and losers in these processes and intervention leads the urban designer into a complex web of social and political relations. Objectives and outputs. â&#x20AC;˘To work in a group to analyse the physical conditions of a neighbourhood. This should involve historical research into its development, its social characteristics and dynamics, its borders and edges and other data on its economic performance, housing typologies, amenities, crime levels etc. The area should be analysed and mapped to assess its particular urban identity. The outputs should be in the form of a narrative of 250 words accompanied by a series of A1 boards of photographic or drawn images to depict the prevailing conditions. â&#x20AC;˘Students should also identify a single design intervention (a particular site , area or theme) which will be the subject of the next, individual exercise. The method of presentation is left to the student and may be in the form of drawings, models or other media. Selected areas We have chosen a selection of neighbourhoods outside the centre of London, that are of different sizes and in different economic condition but all display a similar level of urban stress.

THE HIDDEN WORLD OF THE MEWS Once upon a time the Kings of England used to go hunting

commercial use, but the majority were converted into homes.

with beautiful hawks, birds that cyclically used to lose their

These “mews houses”, nearly always located in the wealthiest

old feathers during the period of the moulting, or mewing. The

districts, are themselves now fashionable residences. As

term “mew” first referred to a building when the Royal Mews

the word “mews” suggest, this building typology and urban

of Charing Cross was built on the site were the king’s hawks

structure has been one of the main characters of London story

were formerly mewed. The Royal Mews was then turned into

of urban changes and evolution. It was where the city was

a stable for horses and carriages in the sixteenth century. In

more free to evolve while the strong structure of the terraced

the occasion of the London Workshop our group decided to

houses tended to be maintained as fix by common use and

investigate the shift in the role of the mews, from a device to

even laws. What interested us the most was how, despite the

hide all the undesireble aspects of life from the sight of the

changes, the mews managed to protect the features of its

richer social classes, to one of the most desirable residential

outer space, neither private nor public, against the threats of

typology in London.

the modern city.

Since the beginning, the meaning of the word was always referring to “a set of stablings grouped around a yard or alley”, becoming more and more close to the definition of a specific urban structure.

In the 18th and 19th centuries London

housing for wealthy people generally consisted of streets of large terraced houses with stables at the back, which opened onto a small service street. The mews had horse stalls and a carriage house on the ground floor, and stable servants’ living accommodation above. Generally this was mirrored by another row of stables on the opposite side of the service street, backing onto another row of terraced houses facing outward into the next street. Sometimes there were variations such as small courtyards. Mews lost their equestrian function in the early 20th century when motor cars were introduced. At the same time, after World War I and especially after World War II, the number of people who could afford to live in the type of houses which had a mews attached fell sharply. Some mews were demolished or put to

RC15|Samuel Lozeau-Laprise


Fig. 8.18. This double-side section shows the different character of the mews in the past, when they were first introduced in the urban fabric, and in the present days.


London workshops|Exercise 2

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LONDON WORKSHOPS EXERCISE 3 Samuel Lozeau - Laprise A Design Intervention. In this short exercise we would like you to choose a place, space or theme in the neighbourhood that you have been studying and make a single design intervention. This is a free design exercise and it is intended to test your design thinking, imagination and presentational skills There are, however, some important constraints: -Each area has unique characteristics. Your intervention may be as radical as you wish, but it must be contextual in as much as it stems from your analysis of the area. There should be a clear narrative that explains why you have chosen your intervention which should have a positive impact on the neighbourhood in terms of its physical form and social, economic and environmental wellbeing. -There are no limitations on scale or building heights. You will however be expected to justify your design with reference to the surrounding context - Conservation in the form of protected open space, trees, buildings, artefacts is not a constraint, but you will be expected to have understood the limitations that this places on you as a designer and justify any decisions to disregard protected structures. Outputs The output will be at your discretion. The key task will be for you to be able to communicate your ideas effectively, concisely and convincingly. In drawing up your design solution you may define your area as tightly or as loosely as you wish. It may be a design intervention for a new public square or it may consider other interventions to â&#x20AC;&#x153;frameâ&#x20AC;? the space in terms of buildings or other structures. Alternatively you may wish to explore connectivity issues with the wider area, or how the function of the spaces may be enhanced or changed by other strategies or installations. This exercised will not be part of the assessment of the course.

Ambiguity of the mews, Valorisation of space The city is a melting pot of public and private spaces, and the mews, by been both is a wonderful example of the richness of the city. In a growing world of privatisation and fear of the others, the mews present itself as gray area allowing us “we the people” resident and creator of the city, to take it back and restore its sense of community, the authenticity of the city. In the universe of the mews, where dream and reality coexist with private and public, the pleasure to watch and discover constitute a common drive to all the players. Through the window of his home the inhabitant observes still, his neighborhood as well as the anonymous wanderer, himself trying to satisfy his eyes through the windows and the vegetation. In the tangle of cross looks between the wanderer and the inhabitant, above the children occupied by their game, multiple plots originate, real or fictional. The project aims to highlight and give back this particular aspect of the life in the mews often also comparable to our relationship as a spectator in what our society offer like, reality shows, tabloids or with social networks, another place where we are turn by turn the gaze object put on show and the carrier of the look. We don’t want to create another Mayfair Mews with private security, cameras and fences, but a mews that improve people lives and integrate the people in the creation of their city. To those NIMBY I say, YES! The change is coming from your backyard.

RC15|Samuel Lozeau-Laprise


Fig. 8.19. Presentation panel of the project presenting the mews network and the possible re appropriation of the mews by the local citizens.


London workshops|Exercise 3








Samuel Lozeau - Laprise The Bartlett School of Architecture MArch Urban Design 2013-2014 UD1|RC15 Tutors: Platon Issaias, Camila Sotomayor

Shifting Landscape  

MArch Urban Design Thesis. The Bartlett, University College London (UCL). Samuel Lozeau. 2013-2014.

Shifting Landscape  

MArch Urban Design Thesis. The Bartlett, University College London (UCL). Samuel Lozeau. 2013-2014.