Update on the winning competition in Marseille

Andreas MortensenCompetitions, Urban Design

competition, France, Marseille,

arki_lab has just returned from an intensive and productive workshop last week in Marseille, and we are happy to share with you that the process of developing Plan d’Aou is moving forwards.

After the initial start-up last workshop, where arki_lab and Concomitance, the other Europan-competitors, together defined the strategy for the internal process between the teams, we are now beginning to look outwards and onwards, and to see how we can explore the potentials and address the problems of the area.

The context of the site is very complex, including at once many of the social and political challenges that Marseille is facing, as well as the potentials and the richness of a dynamic, multi-ethnic and culturally aspiring city. It is clear to us that we must address the problems by activating the resources found in grass-root initiatives and communities, and that our ambition for an adaptable and resilient neighbourhood must be rooted as much in an area’s social identity and community, as on its technical features.

Together with Concomitance, stakeholders, schools, neighbours, Cosmos Kolej – the theatre group located right next to the site – as well as urban gardens and other local initiatives, our goal is to create a framework for Plan d’Aou, including a specification of critical mass and green and grey connections, as well as a ‘toolbox’ that will be used by architects and landscape architects when further detailing the spaces and buildings.


During last week’s workshop we were able to try out some of our involvement tools like arki_nopoly, which also proved successful in a French context, gathering valuable knowledge as well as initiating an important dialog between architects and citizens. We are looking forward to a more thorough involvement process in the near future, where the program for the site will be detailed in partnership with the local community. During the workshop we were also introduced to the American concept of ‘Community land trust’, much resembling what we know from Denmark as an ‘andelsboligforening’. This is a new approach to land development in France, and possibly very relevant to implement in Plan d’Aou.

All of these factors make for an interesting urban development, and we are excited and optimistic about the future of this project. A holistic approach involving new tools for involvement, community development and land use will be crucial for securing the identity and adaptability of Plan d’Aou.

Stay tuned for further updates.

Read previous blogpost about Marseille here.

Blog author: Kim Pløhn


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