Author(s): Bastien BEGUIER et François JAUBERT

Pavilion-style house and town centre square

Gignac La Nerthe is a French Provence commune near Marseille.

The city has relied on agriculture since the Middle Ages and grew in size from the sixties when it welcomed the first repatriates from Algeria. At the time, the city was subject to a pavillion-style urbanisation policy to rehouse the inhabitants of the northern neighbourhoods of Marseille. The town of Gignac thus densified by a territorial sprawl resulting from the de-densification of the large Marseilles housing projects.

Today, the town is completely eaten away by expanding individual plots, and the town centre leaves very little urban breathing and public space. Completely deserted, it still boasts a church, launderette, town hall and its square, a barn, a town house and several wastelands.

Starting with this raw material, the municipality launched a real estate acquisition policy to reconquer its town centre and recreate a centrality around the town hall through a public space project at the scale of the town and its inhabitants.

Through a series of workshops, Comac and the municipal team defined the programme and its challenges: a multi-generation space, a place for encounters, life and exchanges around local plantations reflecting the image of the authentic Provence space.

The challenge consisted in unifying a whole of disparate urban components. Assembling and recomposing a centrality from the Town Hall, the Boulevard Perier, the launderette, the barn and the wasteland bordered with parvillion-housing plots.

By demolishing the town hall adjacent to the barn, the project breathes the first breath of life into the urban town centre, extending the town hall square beyond the Boulevard Perier, expanding the latter to the residual plots to form almost 3000 metres of coalition space.

This urban set-up enjoys various areas filled with various character, ambiance and uses and constitutes today a veritable tool available to the municipal team, where the latter can develop a social policy in the favour of Gignac inhabitants.

The demolished house boasted a floor made of colour cement tiles characteristic of the region and an era.

Placed and preserved, these elements were reused to clad the masoned table of the open-air barn and also served to inspire the tile motif on the façades of the pavillion-style house.

The façades were drawn based on the original drawing of the tiles, reinterpreted in the colours of the Provence flag.

Today, the motif allows identifying the project by confering it an image of modernity through a symbol that draws its sources from the local building tradition.

Function : Pavilion, urban square, barn, laundry, children's games