La Marseillaise: An office building draped in the French flag

In the South of France, the city of Marseille welcomed a peculiar new building in 2018. Called La Marseillaise, this 135-metre tower designed by Jean Nouvel stands out from the surrounding buildings thanks to the three colours that it wears – those of the French flag. ArcelorMittal Construction provided Cofraplus® 60 composite floor decking for the entire building.

Detailed information

Located in the Euroméditerranée district, where the former docks of the Port of Marseille were located, La Marseillaise is a 35-storey building overlooking the sea and offering 35 000 m² of office space over 31 floors, a canteen, a day nursery, and shops on the ground floor. Designed by world-renowned architect Jean Nouvel, this office building was built by Vinci.

Fully floored with Cofraplus®

La Marseillaise was built with a concrete core and a full steel structure, constituting a noteworthy example of steel-concrete composite construction. ArcelorMittal Construction was selected as the sole steel supplier for the floors and supplied a total of 35 000 m2 of Cofraplus® 60 composite floor decking. Cofraplus® 60 is an optimised and competitive solution that offers many advantages to the customer:

•    lightweight steel composite construction
•    simplified construction logistics on site
•    fast assembly without propping and minimum crane usage
•    fire resistance of 120 minutes

Cofraplus® 60 was provided in 1 mm sheet thickness and prepunched for the shear studs/connectors in order to guarantee fast assembly.

ArcelorMittal Construction's technical team provided support to the designers while 20 to 30 structural design calculations in accordance with the Eurocodes were realised for the floors.

Architectural concept: A hymn to light, draped in the French ‘tricolore’

Jean Nouvel designed the tower to stand out in the Marseille skyline, while at the same time to “become part of the dense Mediterranean Sea air, the mist, the rain, the whole atmosphere.”

Nouvel’s La Marseillaise was conceived as a “hymn to light, a step, a stairway, a ladder leading to overhead bridges to, or in, the sky.” As a beacon of light, the building plays with sun and shade, its simple geometrical shape creating a complex, almost mathematical line pattern of light and shadow that somehow manages to soften and even expunge the lines of the physical edges.

Its colour scheme is another feature that makes La Marseillaise unique. With a facade reminiscent of the French flag, it is as if the tricolore with its blue, white, and red were draped around the tower. A total of 26 different colour shades were necessary to create the blurred, diffused tricolour facade.

The colours also reflect aspects of the city of Marseille: the blue for the sky, the sea, and even the OM football team; the white for the horizon and the sea foam; and the red for the roofs of Le Panier district near the Old Port of Marseille.

As light and the colours interact, the “sun breakers become indistinguishable from the ceiling.” The same colours continue on the inside of the building - in the false ceilings, the columns, beams, and staircases - in order to, as Jean Nouvel expresses it: “blur and erase the transparent physical boundary of the glass.”

The building’s facades contribute to the haptic texture of the building envisioned in Jean Nouvel’s design. The floor to ceiling windows in the north and east facades are characterised by vertical fins made of ultra-light, high performance concrete that protect from the light. On the south and west facades, cantilevered metallic maintenance walkways provide sun protection for La Marseillaise.

Project information

  • Marseille
  • France
  • 2018
  • Architect:
    Ateliers Jean Nouvel
  • Engineering office:
    AEDIS (structure), Alto ingenierie (building services and sustainable development), Arcora (facades), AVEL (acoustics), Casso (fire safety)
  • Contractor:
    Vinci Construction
    Subcontractors: Botte Fondations (foundations), Ouest Alu (facades), URSSA (steel structure)
  • Client:
    Constructa Urban System
  • Photos:
    © Stèphane Aboudaram/WE ARE CONTENT(S), © Michèle Clavel
  • Video:
    © Vinci Construction
  • Text:
    Constructalia + ArcelorMittal Europe