by Bianca Turnea

The story begins on the edge. Here, new types of materials take shape in order to address and challenge the most pressing ecological and sociological issues of Marseille: the crumbling city and plastic pollution. The materials are to reconstruct and rebuild the Old City - the home of migrants, the African community that has been there for generations, in the heart of the city, fighting to be seen as part of its heritage. The new material, the algae bioplastic, sets to not only patch, stitch and restore the city out of the ruins but also, metaphorically, to challenge the timelessness and heaviness of the colonial architecture, creating, therefore, a new heritage - one that is temporal, inclusive and non-land grabbing. The new architecture sees time as an ally, celebrating the temporality of the biomaterial, embracing the ongoing process of reconstruction it requires, and seeing the ruins as opportunities for production. It plays with the material’s mechanical properties, making it responsive to its environment and malleable to the needs but also the culture and traditions of the African community. The living heritage is already present through the community; therefore, the process could be considered a process of activation and application rather than reconstruction, where the community itself, using its skills, implements the new heritage.