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Marseille Fantasy: Landscape as Architecture: Lighting & Excavating the Mediterranean Metropolis

Part 2 Project 2011
Xu Yang
University of Edinburgh Edinburgh UK
The design project focuses on the idea of understanding the city of Marseille as a lighted and excavated landscape, and accordingly designing architecture as a forged landscape condition.

“Lighted landscape” refers to an abstracted landscape which is derived from the light and shadow of condensed city fabric. It records a specific light quality and spatial effects of a specific time and location.

The design project is to test the idea of forging lighted landscape of a high dense urban fabric with excavated landscape at the city edge. The transitional process takes three main steps:
1. Abstracting “lighted landscape” from light and shadow of urban fabric
2. Rotating and displacing “lighted landscape”
3. Fitting into “excavated landscape”

The conflict of the expanding edge of the city and the confining of geological condition leads to two possible opportunities for city development: either condensing the city centre by underground excavation, or expanding the city edge by excavating into the mountains. The idea of quarries as representative of existing excavated landscape is utilised as a media to explore these possibilities of development.

The school complex is designed from the idea of displacing a piece of ‘lighted landscape’ fabric (Place des Moulins sited in Le Panier district) of a city to an existing quarry at the northern city edge. The contours of the quarry provide a naturally formed reservoir. Geothermal energy is used in the architectural construction by extruding heat through conducting pipes deep down to the ground. The superimposition of two landscapes informed by invented strategies of both abstract lighting and excavation, results in a new piece of architecture –landscape, a new Mediterranean metropolis.

Xu Yang


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