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Marseille Airport Opens New Terminal Extension

by Ron Bernthal

Jun 10, 2024

© Foster + Partners

Daily

Following an international design competition in 2017, global architectural firm Foster + Partners was appointed to design and oversee the construction of the new Marseille, France, airport. Building started in 2021, and the project is due to be fully complete in time for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games, scheduled to begin July 26 and run until Aug. 11. Although Marseille is 497 miles south of Paris, the city of Marseille will host a number of sporting events during the Paris Olympics, including sailing and several football matches.

Marseille Airport

© Foster + Partners

The new Marseille Provence Airport terminal extension will allow the airport to continue its role as the primary gateway to the Provence region of France for millions of visitors each year. Passenger traffic at the airport has shown a significant increase over the past decade. The airport handled approximately 9.4 million passengers in 2018, and it is estimated by 2025 it is expected to reach 11 million passengers a year.

The new extension will eventually allow the airport to serve up to 12 million passengers per year and significantly improve the passenger experience by reorganizing passenger flows through a set of simple, bright and easy-to-navigate spaces.

Marseille Airport

© Foster + Partners

The new design restores the ease of the layout in Fernand Pouillon’s 1960s original terminal design while adding the “missing piece” to the 1992 extension by noted British-Italian architect Richard Rogers, which will tie the entire group of buildings together. The project will create a new coeur (heart) and involves the construction of a new building to serve as a connecting link between the two existing halls of Terminal 1. It will also keep the arrival and departure sequences within a single building. Designated as Mp2, a second terminal, used mainly for low-cost airlines, was built in 2006.

The airport’s coeur now is a 72-foot-high glazed hall which will remind travelers of the original Pouillon building with its inverted beam roof, 108-foot-deep span and continuous grid of glass skylights. Covered in polished aluminum, the skylights act like giant lanterns, bringing nature’s light deep into the building and allowing for natural ventilation, greatly reducing the use of air-conditioning. In addition, large indoor trees bring a sense of calm to the space, helping create a relaxing environment.

Marseille Airport

© Foster + Partners

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 quickly transported into a large, double-height space occupied by shops and restaurants, and with quiet seating areas surrounded by green trees. From here, there is a clear view of the aircraft and gates, with the lounges and a panoramic terrace on upper levels.

Much of the original airport design and project adjustments have created opportunities to further reduce the carbon footprint of the terminal by 15 percent. This reduction, coupled with the fact the project reuses existing buildings, makes the heart of the terminal’s (the coeur d’aérogare) carbon footprint extremely efficient.

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