The Street

The street of Les Crottes in Marseille represents one type of problematic street that can be seen in most European post-industrial cities where two types of urban fabric (industrial and residential) meet. After the process of deindustrialization, the industrial side of the street cannot fulfill its function in the previously symbiotic urban system anymore and the industrial side presents a completely different morphological urban structure, breaking the consistency of the residential urban structure. Therefore, the street of Les Crottes, especially the industrial side should be the starting point of activating the whole area. The research phase of this project concentrates on finding reasons why the street of Les Crottes became like today’s situation based on morphological and typological analysis. By introducing a strategy at four different levels, this report launches at the urban level and finally ends at giving a solution at the building level of the industrial side of the street.

cover art
Levels of the analysis: city, neighborhood, block, building
Street activity in the center, versus in Les Crottes
Urban development of the neighborhood of Les Crottes: the neighborhood is a product of Marseille’s rapid industrialization
Les Crottes is defined by one main street, leading into the center of the city from the north.
The street is bordered on one side by dense residential tissue, while the other side is dominated by loosely placed industrial buildings.
The street itself is home to many small businesses, but is overpopulated by auto mechanics and repair shops. Possibly the urban isolation by means of large infrastructure and the proximity of large scale industry renders this a proper location for this type of activity. It has the unwanted consequence that the street acquires a desolate and unmaintained atmosphere.
The intervention strategy focusses on the industrial side of the street. The question raised is, how to make this street inhabitable again?
The strategy relies heavily on phasing. The street façade is the focus of the first development: complete the facades and create program for the plinths. From this seed development the rest of the lot can be filled with a type of consecutive courtyard buildings.
The courtyard buildings create a gradient from public (streetside) to private (residential entrances). Alternatively, the courtyard can be utilized for a public function, such as an open-air auditorium or public gathering place.
The building design focusses on this public type of courtyard building: a library annex community center. It is meant as a seed development, completing the street façade using the ‘DNA’ of the rest of the street’s architecture, while implementing dense program in the plinth.
One courtyard is public, the other one leads to residential entrances. From this courtyard, continuous development is possible by concatenating more courtyard buildings behind it.
The design of the façade leans heavily on the architectural elements that already exist in the street. Further emphasis was put on the collective entrances of the block development.

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