You are using an outdated browser. Please upgrade your browser to improve your experience.

print article Print article
Rémy Marciano Architecte, Marseille, University library

Dance of the Hexagon: University Library by Rémy Marciano in Marseille

The Aix-Marseille Université campus occupies a prime location of the Calanques national park, far south of the city centre of Marseille. In the 1960s, architect René Egger designed the Hexagone cafeteria - a six-sided, spaceship-like structure with a recessed ground floor and jutting upper level in the concrete brutalism typical of the era - to be the heart of campus life. After standing empty for many years, a bit of imagination was required to detect the indisputable qualities that still remained in the old building with blocked-up windows.

Now, after complete refurbishment by Rémy Marciano, the building presents itself quite differently: the rigid concrete gridwork of the façades has given way to a free interplay of vertical sun shades of white perforated metal sheeting. Dark wooden slats around the entrances and loggias set a contrast to the white. Above all, Marciano has opened up the symmetrical shape. Instead of a hexagon, three slightly offset levels now overlap. An inner courtyard, likewise hexagonal, lets light into the building, which has also taken on new functions since the refurbishment. First and foremost, there is the university library, which has 550 work stations, a language centre, a coffee bar, a contact and career counselling office for the students, as well as further working spaces for student associations and various administrative units of the university.

Large portions of the concrete skeleton and its striking ribbed ceilings, which are based on a triangular grid, have been retained from Egger’s design. Where necessary, Marciano has added new ceiling slabs to the sides. The difference between the old and new structure can be clearly seen in many places, for the exposed concrete from the 1960s continues to show visible traces of its use.

Kurze Werbepause

Further information:

Occupant: Aix Marseille Université
Acousics: LASA
Ligth planning: WSP/Bouygues Énergie
Floor area: 7783 m2 SDP
Building costs: ca. 18,6 Mio. €

Current magazine
DETAIL 10/2020
DETAIL 10/2020

Building Envelopes

See magazine
Product teaser


Detail Newsletter

We will keep you informed about international projects, news on architectural and design topics, research and current events in our newsletter.