In Monaco, luxury and greenery emerge from the immense Mareterra construction site

The Mareterra construction site, April 30, 2024 in Monaco (AFP/Archives/Valery HACHE)

It is first of all a huge real estate operation aimed at a handful of ultra-rich people, coupled with considerable technical prowess, but the Mareterra shipyard, which allowed Monaco to encroach on six hectares of the Mediterranean Sea, will also bring out a uniquely green and elegant neighborhood.

The inauguration of this project worth more than two billion euros is planned for the end of the year, several months ahead of schedule, and although some 2,800 people are still working every day on the site, time is now in the finishing stages.

Monaco, an extremely wealthy principality on the Côte d’Azur, had already gained 40 hectares from the sea since the 1950s but this project launched in 2015 has no equivalent, even in the Middle East, given the depth of the structure, which descends up to 50 meters and seismic or environmental constraints.

The work is based on 18 enormous concrete boxes demarcating a new coastline. The dry space inside was filled with sand and consolidated by more than a thousand large piles 45 meters high, describes the company Anse du Portier, promoter of the project.

Strict measures have been taken to limit the impact on the environment, with for example the movement of 500 m2 of Posidonia meadows, this plant which serves as a nursery for fish, the gradual treatment of polluted sediments or the arrangements of the caissons so that marine life can make them their own.

The Monegasque government claims to have carried out “particularly demanding monitoring”, with divers and regular analyses, during the construction site. Aspona, a neighboring French environmental association which was concerned at the start of the work, says today that it has not observed “any major deterioration” but regrets “lacking reliable information”.

The Mareterra construction site, April 30, 2024 in Monaco

The Mareterra construction site, April 30, 2024 in Monaco (AFP/Archives/Valery HACHE)

“While the rise in sea levels will raise the question elsewhere, we have been a real laboratory,” rejoices Guy-Thomas Levy-Soussan, managing director of Anse du Portier. “We showed that it was possible to do well. Yes it costs, yes we took the time, but we made an effort.”

The company, which essentially brings together around ten families with powerful names in Monaco such as Pastor, Brianti or Casiraghi, was able to raise funds by focusing on luxury and space while the 39,000 inhabitants of the principality are cramped. over 2 km2 steep between sea and mountain.

– “Big commercial success” –

In a complex entrusted to the Valode et Pistre Architectes firm, in partnership with, among others, the Italian architect Renzo Piano, the new district includes five buildings – for a total of 120 spacious, even immense apartments – and ten exceptional villas.

Everything has been sold: last year a government source mentioned prices of up to 120,000 euros per m2, an amount that Mr. Levy-Soussan describes as “optimistic” while recognizing “a big commercial success”.

Aerial view of Monaco, September 29, 2022

Aerial view of Monaco, September 29, 2022 (AFP/Archives/Valery HACHE)

Incidentally, the Monegasque government recovered 576 million euros in VAT between 2020 and 2023, as well as public works provided by developers such as an extension of 6,000 m2 of exhibition space for the Grimaldi Forum, the neighboring convention center , or a new underground car park.

And the new, essentially pedestrian district could become a real attraction for the public while real estate pressure had pushed in recent decades to the haphazard erection of tall, not always graceful, towers.

Local residents and tourists will be able to stroll between a small wooded hill – a thousand trees from a Tuscan nursery are in the process of being transplanted – with dry stone walls and a wide seaside promenade, on the crest of the caissons of concrete.

The interior of one of them remains accessible: after the impression of entering a sarcophagus, the visitor can enjoy a view overlooking the water, where the sun offers striking plays of light and where the Marine life begins to settle in.

As finishing touches, the developers have added a meditation room decorated by Vietnamese artisans and will display at the entrance to the neighborhood an Alexander Calder mobile, purchased by Princess Grace and recently restored.

“It illustrates the search for balance between man, town planning and the sea,” explains Mr. Levy-Soussan.

© 2024 AFP

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