The massive project, which will include work by Renzo Piano Building Workshop, will create nearly 650,000 square feet of residential and commercial space.
When an area has developed every square foot of land, the next step is usually to start building upward, à la New York City. But rather than squeeze in new skyscrapers, Monaco has always taken a different approach. The city-state on the French Riviera packs a population of over 38,000 into 500 acres (just under one square mile), and its real estate is the most expensive in the world, with buyers paying an average of $4,536 per square foot, according to Savills. So to increase the available land space, the principality is once again expanding into the Mediterranean.
The new district, called Portier Cove, will add an additional 15 acres and is set to be completed in 2025. The project, which is owned by the state, is helmed by civil engineering firm Bouygues Travaux Publics, with Valode & Pistre Architectes in charge of the coordination of the design firms and overall plan. Other firms involved include Renzo Piano Building Workshop, who will be designing a residential building, landscape architect Michel Desvigne, and Monaco-based architects Alexandre Giraldi and Patrick Raymond.
This is not the first time that Monaco has reclaimed land from the sea. The principality first began expanding in 1880, and Prince Rainier, known as the “builder prince,” increased the size of Monaco by 20 percent during the 1960s and ’70s. The new $2.3 billion undertaking will create nearly 650,000 square feet of residential and commercial space to accommodate up to 1,000 residents. The district will also boast a landscaped park, a marina with 30 berths, and a central public square. The Grimaldi Forum, a conference and cultural center, will be expanded into the new land, allowing for a 50 percent increase in capacity.
To build the extension, Bouygues Travaux began by dredging the area so that 18 caissons (a watertight structure that’s typically used to work on the foundations of water-based structures) could be added. The band of 10,000-ton caissons will be connected to form a seawall surrounding the reclaimed land. Over 21 million cubic feet of sea sand dredged from north of Sicily will be used to fill in the reclaimed land. The maritime infrastructure is expected to be completed by the second quarter of 2020.
“The techniques we are using are old techniques, but they are pushed to the limits of what we are used to doing,” says Christophe Hirsinger, director of Bouygues Travaux Publics.
The sea extension was designed to follow the contours of the existing shoreline so the marine currents would not be disturbed. The topography of the new plot was designed to echo the rest of the landscape. A hill is planned in the northwest section, and the elevated area will have a public park in the center, and the Grimaldi Forum extension will be located underneath.
A project of this magnitude could be incredibly disruptive from an environmental standpoint, but all of the stakeholders—including Prince Albert II, a dedicated environmentalist—describe a commitment to developing an eco-friendly district. The building process has been designed to protect water quality and marine life. Rocks with protected algae, 143 noble pen shells, and over 5,500 square feet of Posidonia Oceanica, a seagrass species, have been relocated, and the marine infrastructure will be treated to support plant and animal habitats.
“We are doing some acoustic detection to make sure animals aren’t present in the area, and if they are we have a process to create noise that will make them leave the work site so they aren’t harmed,” says Hirsinger.
Once complete, Portier Cove will be pedestrian-only and 40 percent of the energy will be supplied by renewable sources.
Because of the environmental constraints placed on the project, as well as its large scale, Hirsinger sees the project impacting similar extensions going forward.
“This type of operation—in this scale—is unusual,” he says.“This project is a unique, but it will be a model for future extensions.”
Originally published by ELIZABETH STAMP at Architecturaldigest.com
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