Norman Foster's mirror

Norman Foster’s Ombriere. You’re almost under it before you notice it.

After nine months of construction, re-routing of traffic and a rumoured EUR45 million bill, visitors to Marseilles’ Vieux Port can now photograph themselves upside down.

Norman Foster’s Ombriere, a huge flat mirror supported on poles above the terrace in front of the Vieux Port, reflects the colourful fishing boats, the buses, the beggars and hawkers, the school excursions, the petit trains and the visitors who cluster in this hub of Marseillaise tourist life.

I hope this mirror thing doesn’t become a cliche, like the giant ferris wheels sprouting on groovy, go-ahead, ‘wow, look at us!’ city skylines.

Cloud Gate, Chicago

Cloud Gate, Chicago

Anish Kapoor’s Cloud Gate in Chicago and Sky Mirror in Monaco started the trend and have become magnets for anyone with a camera or a hole in the back of their phone.

They’re fun to play with, and truly beautiful objects in their own right.

Ombriere may not have the magic of Kapoor’s brilliant creations though, to be fair, the brief was different. Ombriere had to be effective close up without dominating the Vieux Port from a distance. It’s as much an architectural element, offering a place to shelter from sun or rain, as a work of art.

A conger line of schoolchildren.

The kids like it…

...and so does nearly everybody who passes by.

…and nearly everybody finds it at least worth a passing glance.

Fishing boats and tourists.

Fishing boats or tourists, it depends on your point of view.

Reverse angle.

Reverse angle.

What do you think? Like it? Should every town get one?


Filed under Art, France

13 responses to “IT’S ALL DONE WITH MIRRORS – Marseilles

  1. Interesting, but I can think of many better ways to spend €45 million.

    • I assume the EUR45 million included some roadworks to make a wider area by the waterfront. But if they’d asked you and me, Debra, we could have tendered and come in with a lower quote for the job.

  2. I think it looks pretty good… but as Debra points out, 45 million!? I like your ferris wheel comment by the way, so true!

  3. I agree. The tab seems too high for what it is.

  4. The on-going cost of polishing mirrors must be a significant cost compared to a nice bronze statue that is left to develop a patina—part of it pigeon-patina—over the ages.

  5. Jean-Louis et Muriel

    salut Richard, content de voir que tu as un peu de soleil a Marseille! J’espère que tu as pu apprècier ton sèjour sur la Cote d’Azur
    bises a Agnés. N’hésitez pas a revenir, nous vous recevrons avec plaisir.

  6. The reflections look amazing – but yes, that is a rather hefty pricetag…

  7. Gloria

    We visited Marseille this year and loved the “ombriêre” – it is just full of life! It seemed to bring all the people of the city together.

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