Residential Architecture Project – La Barquière in Marseilles, France

The refreshing white tones and three-dimensional waves of porcelain stoneware cladding faceted by an arched design along the diagonal is the distinctive feature of La Barquière in Marseilles, France, an architectural design project that consists of 62 residential units. The redevelopment of the entire housing complex was entrusted to PietriArchitectes, the architectural agency founded by Jean-Baptiste Pietri and based in Paris. The architects won the third prize in the Façade Cladding category at the 11th edition of the Grand Prix, Casalgrande Padana’s International Architecture Competition.

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Ever since it was founded by the Ancient Greeks in 600 B.C., Marseilles, a well-known French city located on the Mediterranean coast, has always been a city of migration and trade, one of the most important Mediterranean ports, and the oldest city in France. La Barquière residential complex rises in a green oasis in the 9th arrondissement, at the corner between Avenue de la Barquière and Avenue de la Soude.



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La Barquière architectural project results from the division of a private plot of land on which rose an 18th-century Provençal-style house that the owners decided to keep intact. An urban oasis runs along the western side of the house where the family lives. For the remaining 3,912 square meters, Constructa and Eiffage Immobilier have developed a residential project that includes 62 housing units.

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The housing units are served by two staircases and are distributed in a six-story building comprising two levels of penthouses and two additional levels of underground parking for a total of 77 parking spaces. On the northern side of the building, there is a 991 square meters municipal sports facility with a football pitch and skateboard ramps.

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The façades of the building are clad with white porcelain stoneware tiles that recreate a three-dimensional wave, which seems to emerge from the sea. These bright white tiles are inspired by the traditional white houses of the Mediterranean and reflect the sunlight, making the cladding of the northern side of the building iridescent.

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Ondina Collection

The selection of the porcelain stoneware cladding came from the creative idea to soften the excessive orthogonality of the northern side of the building and to make it resonate with the changing Mediterranean light. That’s how Ondina was created, a product collection designed by PietriArchitectes with the help of a 3D printer and manufactured by Casalgrande Padana, the Italian ceramic materials manufacturer.

The strength and purity of white blend with the three-dimensional motif created by two inverted rectangular tiles, faceted by an arched design along the diagonal. These porcelain tiles are laid randomly with alternating joints, thereby creating a myriad of tones and effects, depending on the season of the year and time of day or night.

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Jean-Baptiste Pietri, the founder of PietriArchitectes, describes himself as a romantic rationalist, a description that summarises the architecture of this residential complex, which blends horizontal and vertical movements. The façades of the building feature both wavy and straight lines.

Continuous balconies sway along the white south-western façade, but on the northeastern side, the lines become straight and sharp, and the façade is clad with a faceted white mosaic. The play of light of the porcelain stoneware façade changes as days and seasons of the year go by, accompanied by the refreshing blue color of the sea and the sky.

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The lush vegetation gives the housing complex the feel of an urban garden. On the upper floors of the building, you can enjoy the view of the bright blueness of the Mediterranean Sea.

The freshening white color, a constant in the architectural composition, enhances the shapes of La Barquière, which alternate from wavy like the waves of the sea to straight, sharp, and vertical.


Photos by Nicolas Vaccaro and Matthieu Ducros



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By Danica Maričić

Interior Designer and Integrated Marketing Communications Pro, Loving Writing and Photography, Passionate about Life & Style, “True Blue” Mediterranean Girl, Curious Traveller & Designer