Marseille, France

Foster + Partners


Ombriere at Marseille Vieux Port
Photo © Nigel Young/Foster + Partners

A minimalist structure with maximum impact, Foster + Partners' Ombrière at Marseille Vieux Port marries the World Heritage Site's ancient past with the French city's new status as a European Capital of Culture. The award-winning pavilion (part of a larger redesign of the area), made of highly polished stainless steel, is a literal reflection of the bustling promenade, though its top is matte metal so that the bright Mediterranean sunlight will not reflect harshly into surrounding buildings. Directly beneath the canopy, which is supported on slender steel columns, pedestrians are suspended upside down on its surface. “I love watching people's responses as they realize they can see themselves,” says senior partner Spencer de Grey. “The reflection has an extraordinary degree of precision and definition.” Yet, from afar, the structure appears as a silver splinter hovering above the wharf like a mirage.