The new Marseille Airport is the primary gateway to Provence for millions of visitors each year. The new extension allows the airport serve up to 12 million passengers per year (excluding the MP2 terminal) and significantly improves the passenger experience by reorganising passenger flows through a set of simple, bright, and easy to navigate spaces.
The design restores the clarity of layout and expression in Fernand Pouillon’s 1960s original, while adding the ‘missing piece’ to the 1992 extension by Richard Rogers to tie the entire ensemble of buildings together. The project will create a new ‘Coeur’ – literally, heart in French – that rationalises arrival and departure sequences within a single building, creating an intuitive progression through the terminal for passengers.
The Coeur is a 22-metre-high glazed hall whose structural expression echoes that of the Pouillon building, with its inverted beam roof, heroic 33-metre-deep span and a continuous grid of glass skylights. Clad in polished aluminium, the skylights act like giant lanterns, bringing natural light deep into the building and allowing for natural ventilation, significantly reducing the use of cooling. Large indoor trees bring a sense of calm to the space, helping create a relaxing environment.
The movement of passengers from landside to airside and vice versa follows a simple linear diagram. All departing passengers pass through security screening on the first floor, overlooking the arrivals level below. They are immediately transported into a large double-height space animated by shops and restaurants, with tranquil seating areas surrounded by green trees. From here, there is a clear view of the aircraft and landing bays, with the lounges and panoramic terrace on upper levels. The Coeur floats above the existing 1990s building, creating a common architectural expression for the airport.
The interfaces between the old and new buildings are clearly articulated, using a distinctive portal frame throughout the building. The interior spaces flow seamlessly from one building to the other, with a flexible layout that can be adapted for the existing buildings.
Due to its modularity and seamless integration within the existing terminal, the Coeur has proved to be inherently flexible. As such, it was able to survive the Covid-19 pandemic with minimal design adjustments. The Coeur’s essential qualities, such as its clarity, simplicity and ability to evolve, have been retained and emphasised. Although some elements were adapted to meet new Covid-19 requirements, much of the original design has been preserved – including the overall envelope of the building and the environmental strategy. Project adjustments have created opportunities to further reduce the carbon footprint of the terminal by 15%. This reduction, coupled with the fact that the project reuses existing buildings, makes the Coeur d’aérogare’s carbon footprint particularly efficient.