A New Area Springing Out From The Sea: Mareterra, A Project Meeting All Challenges
The Principality’s first eco-district, covering a total of six hectares, is soon to emerge in Larvotto. This extraordinary project initiated more than ten years ago encompasses five buildings, ten villas, a marina, a hill planted with a thousand trees, a seaside promenade and shops. Planned for delivery in December 2024, it will give the Principality a brand new green look, with its terrain teeming with gardens. Mareterra will go down in history as a stellar achievement of Prince Albert II of Monaco.
The Managing Director responsible for the entire operation, Guy-Thomas Levy-Soussan, has kindly answered our questions.
Hello Monaco: How did this project with a truly surreal name, come about? It’s about making a new land out of the sea, isn’t it?
Guy-Thomas Levy-Soussan: This project is part of what we call “The peaceful conquests of Monaco”, an exhibition held in late 2021 on the Antoine 1er quay.
For 150 years, each sovereign has left his mark on the Principality’s landscape. There was the extension of Port Hercule, that of Larvotto, the construction of the 21-hectare Fontvieille (three times the size of this new district which is to extend over six hectares).
This project is that of Prince Albert II. It has been on the shelves for years. The first version did not really meet the Principality’s ecological standards. In addition, the 2008 crisis undermined the course of things in terms of financing. In 2013 a new call was launched, won by the SAM “L’Anse du Portier”, with the Concession Treaty signed in 2015. The financing is now provided in equity by nine families, all of them having a link with Monaco.
HM: Compared to Fontvieille, how innovative is it?
Guy-Thomas Levy-Soussan: From the point of view of construction and civil engineering, we are truly talking about high technology. Just to compare, Fontvieille is more of a 1980s home phone whilst Mareterra is an iphone that you have in your pocket!
To build the maritime infrastructure we have partnered with Bouygues Public Works. Specially for this operation a huge floating dock was constructed, holding 18 reinforced concrete caissons of 10,000 tonnes each. They are the ones limiting the “Anse du Portier” sea borders, baptized “Mareterra” by the Sovereign.
This land is reinforced by over 1,100 piles to support the buildings. If placed end to end, the piles are 40 kilometres long.
HM: Is environmental protection really ensured?
Guy-Thomas Levy-Soussan: Everything is done to respect the fauna and flora. This is our commitment to the Principality and to the Sovereign. I personally make sure that it is respected on a daily basis. For the first time ever, we have moved more than 500 square metres of posidonia, replanted in the Larvotto reserve. The result is impressive, we have managed to safeguard this plant, so vital to the marine ecosystem and the Mediterranean.
All along Mareterra we have also recreated shallows and nurseries where the fish come to reproduce. The marine life will be thriving along the new coastline, it already is. Talking about that, some magnificent shots were taken by Greg Lecoeur, reflecting the main underwater eco-design steps taken between 2019 and the summer of 2021 along the Mareterra coast. They are now exhibited at the Galerie des Pêcheurs until the end of September. It is quite surprising to see how nature has taken over. And that’s great, that was the plan.
HM: This district is to become the green lungs of the Principality. Will it be open to the public?
Guy-Thomas Levy-Soussan: It will be the Principality’s most abundant district in terms of green spaces, obviously entirely open to the public. It will be accessible to the walkers from the new port known as “Petit Portier”, surrounded by a dozen shops and restaurants. You can then stroll around Princess Gabriella Place, landmarked by a superb Calder creation. The nearby Japanese garden will also be connected to the Mareterra. Parting from the foot of the hill, you may take two different paths: the Pinède valley amidst the greenery of the trees, along a little stream, or a sea walk on the Prince Jacques promenade. Two surprises are in store for you: the Blue Grotto, fitted out to observe the caissons’ interior and its fish life. It is designed in the spirit of the famous grotto of Capri. Upon the wish of the Sovereign, there is also a Meditation Space for you to enjoy.
The cultural life of the Principality will be more abundant still. The Grimaldi Forum is to benefit from a 10,000 m2 extension to host more events — an additional asset for Monaco’s economic and cultural development.
HM: Which will be the smallest and the largest apartments?
Guy-Thomas Levy-Soussan: The goal is to build large units, increasingly corresponding to the local and international demand. In fact, most of the time we are talking about families seeking to settle in Monaco. Following this logic, we have naturally adapted our premises to their requests. The smallest apartment is therefore about 400 square meters and the largest… it is so big that I dare not tell you! We launched the marketing campaign for 140 properties in the midst of the health crisis and it worked very well. We are almost sold out!
HM: And in terms of deadlines, where do you stand? Were you able to respect them despite the health crisis?
Guy-Thomas Levy-Soussan: As to the deadlines, we are fine, even better! We have gained six months on the original schedule. The project was to be delivered in June 2025, it is now December 2024. From the very opening, we are planning a large exhibition, partly under open air. But, shh… it’s a surprise!!!