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CMA CGM Headquarters

  • Marseille, France
  • 2005 – 2010
  • Built
  • 94000m2
  • Floor Area: 94,000m²
  • Site Area: 8,400m2
  • Footprint Area: 6,000m2

Rising in a metallic curving arc that slowly lifts and accelerates skywards into the dramatic vertical geometry of its revolutionary forms. With its ultimate coordinate 142.8 metres above the ground, a gateway to the city from both land and sea, an iconic vertical element that interacts with Marseille’s other significant landmarks.

The disparate volumes of the tower are generated from a number of gradual centripetal vectors that emerge from within the solid ground surface, gently converging towards each other and then bending apart, towards its ultimate coordinate. The tower’s structural columns define, and are enclosed within, a double façade system that reflects these centripetal vectors, generating a dynamic symbiosis between the fixed structural core of the Head Office and its peripheral array of columns.

The key design challenge was the integration of the building environment and the creation of a totally unique, iconic edifice.

Flowing past the Mirabeau site on both sides is an elevated motorway viaduct that bifurcates at the western edge of the new tower’s location. At ground level, a major new interchange allows pedestrians to access new public transport facilities, whilst the quay and its waterways are also adjacent to our site.

Directly at the confluence of this dynamic urban movement, the new tower accentuates its verticality and creates a signature feature that sets a commanding new presence.

The unique design strategy of the new CMA CGM Headquarters divides the overall volume into smaller fragments and reassembles them in a way that maintains the integral uniformity of the tower but with design elements that optimise its relationship with the city of Marseille.

Detailed exploration and research has created the possibility of a more elegant fluid, sculptural form. The building maintains regularity in the upper levels whilst the lower portion ‘morphs’ from the vertical to the horizontal to relate to the extreme horizontal energy of pedestrian, automobile, tram and shipping movements at ground level.

The curving profiles on the exterior façades work with the central core of the building, bringing a rigid frame and a sense of movement to this completely new typology of tower.


Zaha Hadid Architects


Zaha Hadid with Patrik Schumacher

Project Director

Jim Heverin

Project Architect

Stephane Vallotton

Project Team

Karim Muallem, Simone Contasta, Leonie Heinrich, Alvin Triestanto, Muriel Boselli, Eugene Leung, Bhushan Mantri, Jerome Michel, Nerea Feliz, Prashanth Sridharan,Birgit Eistert, Evelyn Gono, Marian Ripoll, Andres Flores, Pedja Pantovic

Competition Team

Jim Heverin, Simon Kim, Michele Pasca Di Magliano, Viviana Muscettola

Local Architect

SRA (Paris) with RTA (Marseille)

Local Engineers

Coplan Provence (Nice)

Structural Engineer

Ove Arup & Partners (London)


Ove Arup & Partners (London)

Façade Engineers

Ove Arup & Partners (London), Robert-Jan Van Santen Associates (Lille)

Cost / QS

R2M (Marseille)


Arup (London)


Epitehk (Italy)


Schindler (France)


SLVR (Marseille)

Floor finishes

Unimarbres (Boissy-saint-leger), Mattout (Gemenos)


G+S (France)


Cegelec Sud-Est (Marseille), Santerne (Marseille)


Chiri (Gemenos)

Wall finishes (glass)

Menuiserie Lazer (Marseille)

Wall finishes (plaster)

MBA/Staff Parisien (Paris)


Mayvaert/Portafeu (Belgium)