MSA Stage 5 School of Architecture

Ben Larman

Final Design Thesis – Achieving Arete

Final Design Thesis – Achieving Arete

Marseille Vieux-Port Masterplan





Realising full physical, intellectual, emotional, social and/or moral potential.
Essentially, excellence of any kind.

A pursuit of excellence, living up to one’s potential.


The pedestrian experience within Marseille, particularly Saint-Victor, feels compromised and is secondary to the car. Outside the more gentrified central streets, the experience of walking is an afterthought, an isolating and disconnected experience. There are physical and metaphysical rifts throughout the neighbourhood, and the wider city, that can be reconciled through intervention. The thesis project explores the symbiotic relationship between the city’s infrastructure and physical & mental health. By providing meaningful routes that encourage you to slow down and ground yourself in your surroundings, this masterplan for Marseille’s port help reclaim the streetscape for people. through methods of retrofit, new build, structural design and urban planning, a new layer has been added to the city, culminating in a new fitness centre – a microcosm of the masterplan – and footbridge, reconnecting north and south.

Portico Entrance

The existing Colonnade of Fort Ganteaume is maintained and used as a motif throughout. Depth is given to the colonnade to afford a canopy before entering.

Palaestra Courtyard

The courtyard resolves issues with the deep plan of the existing fort. Modern materials and construction materials are utilised to breathe new life into existing forms.

Masterplan Section

The masterplan is largely concerned with the Bassin Du Carenage area of the Vieux-Port within Marseille, aiming to introduce a new elevated route to reconnect the southern neighbourhoods to the wider conversation of the city.

Building Corner

The redevelopment of Fort Ganteaume reclaims the waterfront surrounding this historic (and criminally underused) building.

The City as a Gymnasium

The masterplan looks at the city as a vessel that should be furthering our physical and mental wellbeing, that supports us in achieving Arete. There are select moments throughout Marseille where this can be observed as a natural function, either formulated through landscape or through architecture.

Ground Floor Plan

Colonnade Corridor

Rooftop Stoa

Structural Infill

Introducing new timber materials into the existing stone structure creates a stark difference in what is old & new, clearly articulating what is historic and what has been implemented to correct the present issues with lighting and ventillation.

Addition & Retrofit

Bridge Structure

The cable-stayed suspension system of the new footbridge reaches across the mouth of the port by cantilevering an 85m arm.

New Footbridge

A new lightweight pedestrian bridge reaches across the waterfront to reconnect the north and south of the port, as the historic transporter bridge once did.

The Heart of the Masterplan

The core of the masterplan is a redevelopment of part of Fort Ganteaume - giving new life to disused historic building.

Colonnade Development

Physical Model Testing

Physical modelling was a valuable vessel in exploring tectonic expression and the physical connections within the structure.

Section A-A

City Comparisons

The details that give Marseille its unique identity are truly worth celebrating. Where the masterplan concerns itself, however, these details are absent, and instead the effects of modernism, expansion and industrialisation leave the neighbourhoods vacant.

AT Detailing

Masterplan Key Moments

Proposed Masterplan

While most of the masterplan is present southwest of the port, interventions dotted along the waterfront fulfill a loop around the port.