La Porte Bleue: An open door to the Mediterranean

29 Nov 2023

PietriArchitectes agency presents Porte Bleue, a tourist residence and accommodation in Marseille, France.

PietriArchitectes agency presents Porte Bleue, a tourist residence and accommodation in Marseille, France. The 414 white concrete vaults that make up the facade of the tower give an arborescent design and open the view to the Mediterranean in subtle architectural poetry.

La Porte Bleue is part of a real-estate program of 4 distinct buildings (offices, housing, and shops) at the heart of the overall development operation of ZAC Euroméditerranée. The project represents a true place of connection between the port, the roads, and the city, and it embodies one of the gateways to Marseille.

The Quays of Arenc: A new dynamic for the city
By offering a 4-star tourist residence, now belonging to Odalys as a new emblem of the tourist accommodation group, La Porte Bleue is part of the dynamism of a new district. The tower also offers housing for home buyers and features a retail outlet on the first floor. An independent restaurant, projecting from the main volume, will in turn energize this interiority with its 3 glass façades and planted roof.

One project, two entities

Within a 53-meter-high building, two entities make up the program:

- The first is a 4-star tourist residence on the 11 lower levels, comprising 250 units with refined decor. It is also a space dedicated to well-being with an indoor swimming pool and other equipment dedicated to that purpose. At the same time, a restaurant and reception areas complete the whole.

- The second entity, built on the last 7 levels, consists of 68 housing units with a total floor area of 4,891m², all with beautiful surfaces and unobstructed views. A decision was made to provide all of the accommodations with large loggias, considered as additional open living rooms.

The tower comprises a wide range of housing: simplex housing ranging from T1 to T4 on levels R+12 to R+16, and duplex housing ranging from T3 to T4 are offered on the last 2 levels, R+17 and R+18.

The poetry of vaults: Balancing elegance and technique
The facades of the project are made up of a multitude of vaults leaning on one another. The vaults had to meet strict specifications with the choice of concrete with a lower environmental impact, shaped locally in the town of Aubagne, a town close to Marseille. This concrete adornment gives the tower a particular tree-like design that has become a landmark and true signature of the work. The rounded shapes of the vaults frame the landscape softly and singularly through a curve from each interior space. These concrete vaults contribute to the waterproofing of the exterior envelope, in concert with the aluminum joinery. With their 90 cm deep cap, they also play an important role in protecting residents from the wind and the sun, without depriving them of generous glazing. La Porte Bleue has a 50% glass surface and opening windows for an exceptional quality of life.

Low-carbon concrete and marine geothermal energy
PietriArchitectes and Atelier Masse (a structure and facade design office) developed the iconic facade of this project. The 414 vaults are made up of various 90 cm thick Y-shaped modules, linked by keys to the cast beams and slabs, thus constituting a supporting element of the project. Off-site manufacturing of the vaults began in the workshop of the Méditerranée Préfabrication company. This process made it possible to perfect the creation of the vaults with the development of 13 different modules and freedom in the expression of the facade.

PietriArchitectes required a high quality of concrete and a very precise colour. The challenge was to find a material that was both durable and resistant, but also aesthetic. Two options were possible: BFUP or reinforced concrete. The choice fell on white reinforced concrete, with a higher exposure class to combat corrosion due to the proximity of the building to the sea, but also of great resistance to having a thin thickness of the vaults.

The last important point in the selection of concrete concerned a material meeting the challenges of sustainable development, while retaining its performance and resistance qualities. For this, Vinci Construction and Méditerranée Préfabrication, a subsidiary, have developed low-carbon concrete to reduce environmental impact. This self-supporting facade made up of 414 vaults provides a monolithic result that combines a poetic dimension through its aesthetics, as well as technical and architectural prowess.

La Porte Bleue is fully committed to sustainable development issues. Like its neighbour, the La Marseillaise tower designed by Jean Nouvel, as well as other buildings in the Euroméditerranée district, it is connected to the “Thassalia” installation, which allows the building to be heated and air-conditioned using marine geothermal energy, a state-of-the-art process in terms of clean energy.

A door to the imagination
The vaults of the Porte Bleue, bordering the Mediterranean, are a symbol of each origin found in Marseille. The design draws on numerous references, sometimes clear, like the vaults of the Palace of Italian Civilization in Rome, an inspiration for many architects despite its past. Also, the vaults of the Major in Marseille, rehabilitated by PietriArchitectes, and the monolithic appearance of a city entrance gate and monumental threshold embodied by the volume of the tower. Other inspirations come from architecture bordering the Mediterranean, such as the Amalfi Coast and the beautiful vaults which adorn the buildings. The mode nature of the project uses the vault as a Mediterranean element and a key marker of the architecture. The façade captures Marseille's characteristic light like no other, and the concrete illuminates according to the time of day. The white of the vaults, a true PietriArchitectes signature, is a reference to the Mediterranean, to the colour of limestone... White is found in many of the agency's projects, such as the Bains de Mer Chauds, whose colour is extremely seaside and contextual. White is also the colour of modernity and solar architecture, which perfectly characterizes La Porte Bleue.

Project: Construction of a 4-star tourist residence and housing units
Client: Constructa Promotion
Technical Engineering Agency: BET Yves Garnier
Structural Engineer: BET Masse
Area: 13 000m²
Cost: 21 M€
Design phase: 2016-2017
Completion: September 2023

Media Contact
Camille Prudent, Assistant Communication