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Author(s): MOA architecture

BLOK

Contemporary architecture nurses a bad reputation. If public commissions limit the damages, who does not chastise the private architecture that massacres the entrances of cities… And how can we contest it – despite Venduri, Goulet, Koolhaas, Mangin, etc.? Did you know that an IKEA centre only takes three days to design? By other people on the other side of Europe and who have never seen the site on which they intervene, either in real life or in photo? And they really don’t much care either…

We tried to demonstrate that a little bit of attention given to a context allows producing a high-quality urban environment. In a renewed dialogue with its environment, the Blok falls into the continuity of a certain spirit of the location initiated back in the day by the 3-Palmes multiplex, a formidable semi-detached realisation.

The project is sandwiched between two huge glazed screens: the first to be seen and the second to see.

Being seen does not necessarily mean: “marking your name in large fluorescent letters on a loud-coloured cladding”, but rather: stage one’s composure – games and circuses. Behind an immense window, the entablure of football courts on the restaurant constitutes a classic façade composition in itself.

Inside, functions become shows: above, a huge glazed aquarium is filled with overexcited sportsmen. On the first floor, our theatre stages an immense open kitchen stretching out over more than 15 meters. To tell you the truth, today I’d really rather see how what I’m about to eat is being prepared…

Finally, to offer stressed city-dwellers a moment of calm, we framed a magnificent view of the surrounding hills behind a sliding 30 meters tall window that allows transforming the room into a sort of suspended place, away from the mistral…

Today, the practice of architecture is characterized by the dangerous instability of programmes, budgets, and properties. It has become impossible to think architecture in terms of composition, “party” or concept. We have to work with mechanisms, a rather flexible definition for a project such as the Blok to preserve its consistency, even though it had to adapt to several sites, or be subject to important changes in programme. This mechanism is sufficiently powerful to do without a noble materiality. The Blok therefore makes use of the simplest materials, and transforms its apparent technical networks into ornaments. Context once again. Let’s not forget that it was in Marseille that a certain Corbusier invented Brutalism…