Mareterra is a new district under construction in Monaco, designed as an extension of the existing coastline, a six-hectare artificial peninsula located between the Grimaldi Forum and the Formula one Grand Prix Tunnel.
This expansion is part of a broader vision, which includes the nearby Larvotto regeneration project, led by the RPBW and MDP agencies. The overall scheme developing a set of public spaces along 1.5 km of Monegasque coastline, constitutes a unitary, ecologically coherent urban landscape. Its Mediterranean character contrasts with the exotic gardens that punctuate the Riviera. The continuity of the materials and vegetations, the precision of the details held at such a large scale are exceptional. It is the result of a requirement and a rigor the client and the project teams scrupulously share.
The Mareterra project is largely determined by natural geography. It appears as a sort of replica of the natural reliefs. It is characterized by dimensions and physical continuities similar to certain natural peninsulas. Thus, it is seen as a “landscape unity” in itself. Going beyond the formal metaphor, we set up a continuous and abundant layer of fertile soil throughout, despite the extraordinary complexity of the built and maritime infrastructures on which it is implanted.
The dimensions of these new physical continuities constitute the reintroduction of a natural environment in the urban context. It is both the ambition to implant a Mediterranean ecosystem, to offer a parc and to reach the miniaturized refinement of a garden. It is a modern and an unique choice in this region used to exotic and reputed garden, to focus on the evocation of a large landscape of nature more than the constitution of an aesthetic setting.
If the landscape has a strong naturalist plant component, it is also composed of public spaces such as docks, squares, terraced steps, streets, and promenades which follow one another and form a monolithic base. One hectare of pine forest open to the public unfolds on the artificial hill. It is crossed by paths and visible waterlines. Further down, an overhanging district is developed around a small marina. The overall hardscape is treated with the same materials, a limestone, characteristic of Monaco public spaces. Along the sea front, a 700-meter-long promenade reaches the nearby Larvotto beach.
This offshore expansion and the creation of a natural ecosystem within an artificial context, have required the use of very specific methods and engineering. Installing a substrate on the scale of an entire natural landscape is a major challenge. Vegetation takes roots depending on its soil, the various levels of depths and slopes. The coherence between gradings, soil qualities and plantings relies on a decisive coordination between engineers, architects and landscape architects.
The artificial topography of the “hill” covering an exhibition center gave birth to very precise gradings. The profiles of the slopes provide the adequate conditions to plant very large trees. These trees are ranged according to the possible downhill charges on a concrete slab structure, while integrating drainage systems and water flow. Specifications have been set up following the same criteria to guarantee a continuity between the large public landscape and privates gardens of the villas located in the hillside, facing the sea.
The offshore expansion project, and more particularly its landscape component, are part of an overall development spread over several years. While the construction program is developing, the future vegetation that will be planted during the last years of the construction is being cultivated and prepared for the coming transplantation. In the meantime, a culture contract allowed to group the selected plant in nurseries so they could be acclimatized on a seaside site. This is a large-scale operation, especially for the thousand or so large trees, mainly aleppo pines and stone pines, which will exceed 10m in height when they are transplanted onto the Mareterra site.
The prefabrication of this landscape is guaranteed by a meticulous follow-up, careful maintenance and selection carried out jointly by our team, nurserymen and engineers specializing in fertile soils. Prototypes realized in situ and service manual detail the modalities of the future implementations, the systems of anchoring, planting, watering as well as the integration of the technical sheaths, fire hydrants, and other interfaces with ground layouts.
Groupement de la SAM L’Anse du Portier
MDP Michel Desvigne Paysagiste
RPBW Renzo Piano Building Workshop
Valode & Pistre Architectes