The disparate volumes of the tower are generated from a number of gradual centripetal vectors that emerge from within the solid ground surface, gently converging towards each other and then bending apart, towards its ultimate coordinate. The tower’s structural columns define, and are enclosed within, a double façade system that reflects these centripetal vectors, generating a dynamic symbiosis between the fixed structural core of the Head Office and its peripheral array of columns.
The key design challenge was the integration of the building environment and the creation of a totally unique, iconic edifice. Flowing past the Mirabeau site on both sides is an elevated motorway viaduct that bifurcates at the western edge of the new tower’s location. At ground level, a major new interchange allows pedestrians to access new public transport facilities, whilst the quay and its waterways are also adjacent to our site.
Directly at the confluence of this dynamic urban movement, the new tower accentuates its verticality and creates a signature feature that sets a commanding new presence. The unique design strategy of the new CMA CGM Headquarters divides the overall volume into smaller fragments and reassembles them in a way that maintains the integral uniformity of the tower but with design elements that optimise its relationship with the city of Marseille.
Detailed exploration and research has created the possibility of a more elegant fluid, sculptural form. The building maintains regularity in the upper levels whilst the lower portion ‘morphs’ from the vertical to the
horizontal to relate to the extreme horizontal energy of pedestrian, automobile, tram and shipping movements at ground level. The curving profiles on the exterior façades work with the central core of the building, bringing a rigid frame and a sense of movement to this completely new typology of tower.
Photo credits: Iwan Baan.