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The Old Port of Marseille
Marseille, France

  • project The Old Port of Marseille
  • client MPM Marseille Provence Métropole
  • architect Foster and Partners / Tangram architects
  • landscape architect Michel Desvigne
  • electrical planning Ingérop Conseil et Ingénierie
  • electrical installation Citeos / Cegelec
  • photographer Xavier Boymond

As the Euro­pean Capi­tal of Cul­ture 2013, Mar­seille has inve­sted around 660 mil­lion euros in the devel­op­ment of a new cul­tu­ral infra­struc­ture and has made some las­ting chan­ges to the image of the city. Traf­fic-redu­cing mea­su­res have been intro­du­ced in the Old Port, the heart of the old city centre, which has now become a place for people to stroll and enjoy the sur­roun­dings and views. The idea for the ligh­ting stems from Yann Ker­salé. Selux have devel­o­ped and rea­li­sed a tech­ni­cally highly sophis­ti­ca­ted ligh­ting solu­tion.

The place where the Greeks cast anchor and foun­ded their colony Mas­sa­lia” 2600 years ago has become an invi­ting urban space that has recently under­gone con­si­de­ra­ble reno­va­tion. Lands­cape archi­tect Michel Des­vigne together with teams from Foster + Part­ners / Tan­gram Archi­tects have com­ple­tely rede­s­ig­ned the entire 100,000 square metre area. What had once been a quaint old port area had turned into a major traf­fic inter­sec­tion with mul­ti­ple lanes, and was cer­tainly not attrac­ting people to use the loca­tion as a lei­sure spot any more. The ring road around the har­bour has been scaled back, the dock area trans­for­med into a large square for pede­strian and events, and a moder­nist shel­ter from the sun that goes by the name of Ombri­ère” added. Spen­cer de Gray, Head of Design at Foster + Part­ners in London, descri­bes the pro­jects as an invita­tion to the people of Mar­seille to again stage and enjoy events, mar­kets and fes­ti­vals in this grand space”.

The ligh­ting con­cept devel­o­ped by Yann Ker­salé lends the space a new dimen­sion. Seven­teen 16.5 metre and eight 23.5 metre high custom desig­ned Olivio pole-top design lumi­nai­res struc­ture the space and at the same time illu­mi­nate the exten­sive pro­me­nade area right up to the water’s edge. The ultra-tall slim­line poles trig­ger asso­ci­a­ti­ons with the masts on sai­ling ships. The lumi­nai­res are equip­ped with 90 Watt or 140 Watt Cos­mo­po­lis lamps and arran­ged spi­rally around the upper sec­ti­ons of the poles in dif­fe­rent sized groups. Their natu­ral, orga­nic design pro­vi­des a subtle con­trast to the geo­me­tric layout of the pede­strian square.

A major com­po­nent of Yann Kersalé’s ligh­ting design are the 2.5 metre high “LED Skins”: ultra-flat, reflec­tive stain­less steel hou­sings with laser-cut designs, and equip­ped with RGB LEDs. These clad the eight large poles in the centre of the port area, simi­lar to the bark on tree trunks. The resul­ting, amorp­hous loo­king surfa­ces can be used as LED screens for dis­playing video art cre­a­ted espe­ci­ally for this loca­tion by the artist himself. Dif­fe­rent videos are shown depen­ding on the time of year or the spe­ci­fic occa­sion. Images and pat­terns in light that evoke asso­ci­a­ti­ons to flo­wing water under­score the intri­cate link bet­ween city and sea – and reflect the cen­tu­ries-old his­tory of the citi­zens of Mar­seille and how they con­nect to the Medi­ter­ra­nean.

  • The distinctive Olivio family is a modern, striking, multifunctional urban lighting system, available in three different sizes with interchangeable reflectors for street and accent lighting applications. This flexible lighting system can be equipped with optical accessories such as honeycomb and ring louvres, coloured and elongation lenses offering further effects and control. Olivio Sistema, Candelabra and Floracion poles and brackets provide total freedom of design and flexible planning.
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