Today we are continuing to reflect on the new urbanism which seems to us to be that of the Marseilles that we are in the process of building and developing while living in the city. Today we will question this simple fact that Marseille has always been a city, by proposing a reflection on what this particular urbanity implies. Indeed, some towns have only acquired their urbanity following the growth of population spaces that are somehow federated in a political, economic or administrative identity to which the name “town” has been given. Perhaps this is not the case with Marseille.

Marseille has always been a city

Let us remember how Massilia was born, which became Marseille. It was a port on the Mediterranean established as a city and as an area of ​​economic activity by Greeks from Phocaea. This is why the identity of Marseille is based on a logic of metropolis: both in the conditions of its birth and its foundation and in those of its development and its modernity, Marseille is a metropolis, that is to say, basically, a “mother city”, a city giving birth to a citizenship, a culture, an identity going beyond a simple geographical location. What makes Marseille a city from its birth is the logic of trade and exchange, but also, at the same time, the logic of openness to foreign countries, to others. What founded Marseille is a citizenship, belonging to a political space: we were never born in Marseille, we always became one during exchanges, words, markets, with other populations. , with others who have based their citizenship on shared belonging. This is why the Marseille area has always been the result of concerted development, inscribed in a policy of the use of space: outside the sea, which, precisely, founded it on the relationship to the other in a port, there are no natural areas in Marseille. This is also why the identity of Marseille is an urban identity, because it always has the place of a market, that is to say a space for exchanges, words, debates : Marseille was built around a agorathe one that has always brought the inhabitants of the city together around the port, then around the areas of exchange that have been built there over the centuries.

Urban mediation

During development and construction, Marseille town planning has always implemented a real city ​​sociality. For example, neighborhoods have always integrated living spaces and economic or professional spaces, places of culture and places of speech, places of political life and places of judicial or administrative life. We can define an urban society like that of Marseille as the articulation of living and working in the same places: the geography of Marseille is an urban geography. This is why, even beyond the districts of the center, all the districts of the city, even when they are located on the outskirts (I am thinking of districts like L’Estaque or Saint-Menet), are cities: we “talk about town” in all places of Marseille. To achieve its aims, the new urbanism to be imagined in Marseille must, thus, allow all those who live in all the districts to speak the city : undoubtedly the problem of the northern districts, and other peripheral districts whose crises will soon have to be resolved, is that we have not accumulated residential places there without offering places of social and cultural life intended for those who live there. A true urban mediation is based on the equality and sociality of all the inhabitants who, by living there, must see themselves recognizing the same citizenship and implementing it in their daily social practices.

A sociality of transport and travel

The question of transport is essential in town planning: it is this which makes it possible to design social life in the urban space. In fact, beyond their functional nature (we use transport and we circulate to get around, to go to work or go to school), transport represents what can be called mobile citizenship. In public transport, I meet the others during trips that we have, precisely, in common, but, even when I travel on foot or in a private car, I experience sociability and meeting others during my travels. It is on this urban sociality of displacements that the fight against the ghettos is based: the ghettos are only neighborhoods whose inhabitants are not able to meet those of others. A great deal of work has been done in Marseilles, but it is important to further improve the public transport networks so that transport is the place where a real life can be established common and in an attempt to put an end to the pollution and environmental degradation linked to the excessive use of private cars.

Getting rid of “zones”

Finally, the major problem of Marseille town planning is the relationship to what is called the suburbs. Marseille has this particularity that the suburbs are located there within the limits of the city. But, just as there is a “talking about town”there is a “talking suburbs”, that of the outlying districts, a well-mannered way of designating “zones”. This is how the urgency of this new urbanism to be imagined for Marseille is to put an end to these districts which, like the “Northern districts”, which do not even have a name because they are not the subject of ‘real recognition and have no real identity. The urban planning of tomorrow’s Marseille will be a socially, politically and culturally inclusive urban planning, and an urban planning of equality.