Built for defense, the Saint-Jean fort today offers a unique panorama of Marseille and its surroundings from its promontory. It looks forward to a future in which its abandoned military installations will become a place for walking and contemplating the Phocean city.

The project is organised in two parts: historical and topographical. On one side, the fort promontory is very exposed to the coastal elements and the Mistral; on the other side is an enclosed and sheltered place, in contact with the city.  The project rests on three principles that offer three distinct experiences:

– The fort ecosystem, which takes into account the existing ecosystems and develops ecological dynamics from them,

– The horizon attractor, which uses a series of increments or adjustments to frame or capture the horizon, setting the scene for walks along the upper part of the fort,

– The garden-gallery of Mediterranean plants, which allows people to climb from the lower to the upper part of the fort via a path that narrates the history of plants in the Mediterranean civilization.

This facility is a real botanical gallery where edible, medicinal and aromatic plants, as well as those mentioned in religious texts, grow on vertical structures accompanying staircases and lifts. A man-made addition to the structure of the old fort, it forms an attraction in itself.

  • Program / Project: MARSEILLE / Saint-Jean Fortress
  • Client: Ministry of Culture and Communication
  • Project management: Agence Ter (lead consultant) + Concepto + SETEF + Atelier d’Ecologie Urbaine
  • Area: 1.4 ha
  • Date: 2010 competition
  • Amount: 5.7 M€
  • Location: Marseille, France

MARSEILLE / Saint-Jean Fortress