We are delighted to announce that WSP is part of the team, led by Foster + Partners, which will design the extension to Marseille Airport in the South of France. 

Success Story Based on Hard Work and Relationships

The project will allow the airport, the primary gateway to Provence, to serve up to 12 million passengers per year, future-proofing it until 2046.

“This is a real success story for our business,” says WSP’s Lyon office Business Development Manager, Didier Moulart. “It started over five years ago when we discovered that Marseille Airport would be making a significant investment in the next few years. We already had rich experience in Aviation sector through the work on Lyon airport, one of our long-term projects. Also, we have previously worked on rehabilitation of the Aix Campus of Aix-Marseille University with Tangram Architects, and had a long-term global relationship with Foster + Partners. This led to WSP being selected for the Foster + Partners team.”

In addition to Foster + Partners, WSP in France and Tangram, the consortium delivering the project through an EPCM (Engineering, Procurement and Construction Management) contract also includes Airbiz and two subcontractors, EODD and Cyprium.

Pierre Régis, Chairman of the Management Board for the client, AMP, said: “We chose the Foster + Partners consortium for two main reasons. First, because you have designed a high-quality project which meets all our expectations and our brief; and secondly, because we feel a good spirit of collaboration in your team, with strong capability and capacity.”

Exterior view of Marseille Airport

Bright New Heart Links Old and New

The new building will link two existing terminal buildings, the original 1960s building, designed by architect Fernand Pouillon, and a later extension built in 1992 by Richard Rogers with a new hall, the ‘Coeur’, or ‘Heart’. This 22m-high glazed hall with an area of 20,000m2 will combine arrivals and departures within a single building and create an intuitive experience for passengers while allowing the centralisation and updating of numerous operations, such as security control. The hall reflects design elements of the original Fernand Pouillon building. It will feature an inverted beam with a continuous grid of glass skylights, which, clad with stainless steel, act as giant lanterns, bringing natural light and air deep into the building. Large indoor trees further help to create a relaxing environment.

Talking about the aims of the project, Grant Brooker, Foster + Partners’ head of studio, said: “Marseille Airport has grown extensively and incrementally over the last 60 years. Our goal is to design a generous pavilion that reconnects all parts of the existing buildings, simplifying the flow of people between them and creating a new welcoming gateway to the region. The new terminal features a panoramic terrace overlooking the airport and the landscape beyond, and is entirely top lit, capturing the bright Provençal sunlight and paying homage to the bold architectural spirit of Pouillon’s original building.”

Due to open in 2023, the ‘Coeur’ is the first phase of the project, the second being a new 13,500m2 jetty to provide new stands for aircraft, to open around 2027.

Marseille Airport Aerial View- Visual

A Challenging Assignment in a Live Airport Environment

WSP is designing both the new terminal and pier, as well as taxiways and aircraft stands with support from our UK-based specialists in airfield design. Our multi-disciplinary engineering design services will include earthworks, structural, MEP and fire safety engineering and cost estimation. The whole project will be designed in BIM with Revit. In addition, we will manage the construction for our scope of services with Tangram, who will be project manager for the construction phase.

We will be overcoming significant challenges over the course of the project, not least that the airport will be fully operational throughout the construction phase, which will test us both logistically and technically. For example we will have to build a large overhang of 22m extended by 10 m of metal sun screens over the existing departure lounges, which will continue to be occupied.

When it comes to the construction of the pier in phase two, to reduce the impact on day-to-day airport operations we will be designing a modular structure to be manufactured predominantly off-site and erected on a fast-track schedule.

Inside Marseille Airport

Experienced Team

The project will be delivered by our WSP office in Lyon with a local team in Marseille providing construction management. Our project manager, Laurent Poulet has long experience of airport design, having spent the past 20 years working on projects at Lyon’s Saint Exupéry Airport, including the new Terminal 1.

The team sees this project as an enormous opportunity, as Didier Moulart concludes: “We are so proud to be working with Foster + Partners on this fantastic project to deliver the new ‘heart’ of the airport. It is one of the most important projects in Marseille, and an example of how we are growing our business in this beautiful region of Provence.”

For more information on the plans for the new Marseille airport extension, watch this video:

The extension of Marseille Airport by Norman Foster and Tangram Architects