A mirrored canopy offering upside-down views of life around the portside of Marseilles is part of an award winning design by Foster + Partners.
The redevelopment of the French city’s Vieux Port was jointly awarded the 2014 European Prize for Urban Public Space at a ceremony in Barcelona.
The biennial prize, which attracted 274 entries from 30 countries, is organised by seven architecture institutions and is the only award of its kind in Europe.
The award was established to recognise the public character of urban spaces and their capacity for promoting social cohesion.
The regeneration of the Vieux Port, designed by landscape architect Michel Desvigne Paris (MDP) and architect Foster + Partners, has reclaimed the quaysides as a civic space, removing traffic to create a safe, pedestrian friendly public realm and creating space for performances and events.
Architecturally, the waterfront has been enhanced using what the architects called “very discreet means”.
At the broad eastern edge of the harbour a blade of reflective stainless steel shelters a flexible new pavilion for events and markets.
Open on all sides, the 46m by 22m “ombrière” is held aloft on slender pillars, six metres high. The underside of the canopy is a mirror for the sea and life of the port – from the water, it resembles a simple line of silver on the horizon.
The landscape design includes new granite paving, which echoes the colour of the original limestone cobbles. The architects also designed a new range of street furniture specifically for the project, as well as the new wooden nautical clubs over the water.