Decay and Repair: Rehabilitation of Industrial Wastelands in the Calanques

Repairer Architect: The notion of repair is concerned with the potential uses of abundant, but damaged and polluted built heritage that the last two centuries left us. Our understanding of heritage can no longer be reduced to only buildings of historical and aesthetical significance but everything that has been handed down to us. According to The Architect’s Council of Europe data, the renovation and adaptation of existing buildings represents approximately 50% of all construction activity in the EU. Renovation rates are set to at least double by 2030, and up to 95% of currently existing buildings are expected to be still standing in 2050. With this shift away from tabula rasa towards engaging with the existing, it is becoming clear that the role of the architect can no longer be thought of as the originator of grand ideas but as a continuator who continues what others have begun and begins what others will continue.

Located in the Calanques National Park in Marseille, this project explores alternative ways to rehabilitate historical industrial sites that are often left to dilapidate after being declared redundant in their contemporary urban peripheral setting. The project aims to act as a catalyst in rehabilitating industrial wastelands while reconnecting them to the forgotten communities that they grew out of. While celebrating decay and the passing of time within existing buildings, the proposed masterplan looks to promote sustainable methods of development. The masterplan is organised around two key paths comprising an ensemble of production and cultural buildings. While some of the existing buildings are retrofitted to facilitate a new production programme centred around the salvaging, repairing, storing, studying and development of building materials; the rest of the existing buildings are transformed into cultural spaces that draw people into the site and the landscape beyond.