A housing project by Parisian firm Pietri Architectes in the heart of an urbanised district in the city of Marseille. A green island designed to fit in harmoniously with its surroundings, respecting the clients’ wishes to preserve the original building, which dates back to the 18th century. La Barquière is a residential complex with countless nuances of material, playful light effects and reflections, mosaics and façades both undulating and angular: the excellent use of ceramic materials in particular garnered it the third prize in the “Façade cladding” category at the 11th edition of the Grand Prix.
La Barquière is the result of the division of a privately owned plot of land originally home to a single Provençal-style house: an urban oasis that runs along the west side of the house in which the family lives. On the remaining 3,912 sqm, Constructa and Eiffage Immobilier have developed a project comprising 62 residential units: served by two staircases, the units are grouped into a six-storey building which includes two penthouse levels and two levels of underground car parks with a total of 77 parking spaces; on the north side, there is also a small 991 mq stadium built by the city that even includes a skate park.
The design of the porcelain tile used on the façades - a small three-dimensional wave that seems to rise majestically out of the sea, reflecting the sun’s rays - lends the cladding on the building’s northern façade a shimmering, almost iridescent appearance with echoes of the white houses that overlook the Mediterranean Sea.
The careful research and development of a porcelain slab suitable for the cladding was born out of the need to break up the excessive orthogonality of the north side of the building, whilst at the same time maintaining a perfect harmony with the extraordinary changeability of the Mediterranean light. This was the inspiration underpinning the design and creation of the Ondina collection, developed by Pietri Architectes and produced by Casalgrande Padana, in which the sheer power and purity of the pristine white background are complemented by a three-dimensional motif consisting of two inverted rectangular tiles, imbued with texture by a raised arc running along the diagonal. The random laying pattern of the tiles used for cladding, with alternating joints, makes for a vast and captivating sea of reflections that changes depending on the season and time of day or night.
Jean-Baptiste Pietri likes to describe himself as a “romantic rationalist”, an oxymoron that encapsulates the character of the architecture of this residential complex, which juxtaposes horizontal and vertical patterns. Indeed, the building’s façades take a dual form, both rippling and angular: the south-west side features a long white façade made up of continuous, undulating balconies, whilst on the north-east side, the lines become straight and angular, with the façade covered in a textured white mosaic: the reflections and light effects dancing off the porcelain façade fluctuate with the changing seasons and times of day, accompanied by the brilliant blue of the sea and sky. Abundant, flourishing plant life lends the entire complex a sense of urbanity, whilst the building’s upper floors offer sweeping views of the deep blue Mediterranean Sea.
The building’s pure white colour, a constant and fundamental variant in the architectural composition, enhances the shapes of the La Barquière residential complex, which are at times sinuous like the waves of the sea, at others straight, vertical and angular.