The future of the workplace takes shape in Marseille with "Théodora"

The future of the workplace takes shape in Marseille with
Theodora, future smart district in Marseille - ©CARTA Associés & aer studio
04 February 2021 / Big Data/Data Centers, Smart Cities

A hybrid and emblematic project, a response to a real societal challenge

At the forefront of the digital transformation, Kevin Polizzi, director of the B-to-B division at Iliad (Free), is preparing for changes in how his company interacts with its employees: promoting wellness in the workplace, solving mobility problems, reconciling work and home lives, ensuring connectivity, and making room for nature while promoting permeability and openness to one's surroundings. The ambitious Théodora real estate development will emerge from the earth in 2024 to address those challenges, which are more urgent than ever with the ongoing health crisis.

On February 2, 2021, a progress report on Théodora was given by Kevin Polizzi, Chairman of Jaguar Network, a cloud and telecommunications provider that is 75% owned by Iliad Group. When completed in 2024, the innovation hub will account for 3,000 new jobs in the Marseille area.

The 375,000 sq.ft. project represents an investment of €100 million for Polizzi's Unitel holding company.

The development is planning for long-term building reversibility by incorporating innovative construction techniques in the seven structures on the four-acre complex. Théodora checks off all the boxes in terms of the transformations under way at the company, which have been accelerated by the pandemic. "We are creating an ecosystem to deliver a life-spanning complex with resources for training, employment, entrepreneurship and accommodation," explains Kevin Polizzi.

A digital ecosystem open to employee and entrepreneurs

Théodora will be a mixed-use complex with 70% office space, but also affordable housing, a dedicated cybersecurity building, connected fitness center and restaurants open to local residents. The site will also offer co-working and co-living spaces, which are more popular than ever.
The Théodora urban campus neighbors Ecocité, a Euroméditerranée-backed experimental space exploring how cities will work in the future. The second phase of the vast Euroméditerranée national urban planning program will transform the current Canet train station in Marseille into Parc des Aygalades. A stream will run through the park and alongside the Théodora campus buildings. There will also be tiered seating on the banks of the stream to encourage interaction and host events organized by the region's businesses and organizations.

The Parc des Aygalades project aims to bring nature back into the city and to resuscitate the neighborhood. "The lights will not be switched off at 6 pm," Kevin Polizzi promises. Training opportunities will also be on offer. They will focus on digital careers (5G cable technician, data center maintenance) and complement the existing educational programs, including those at La Plateforme (coders, developers, AI specialists and cybersecurity analysts).

With the arrival of the PEACE submarine cables, Marseille will graduate from its current number-nine ranking to the fifth-largest digital hub in the world. With its prime location near those cables, Théodora will boast high-speed internet with ultra-availability, in addition to connections to satellite buildings that will be created at the outermost reaches of the metropolitan area (Aubagne, Istres and Aix-en-Provence). The ultimate objective is to limit the work-home commute to 20 minutes for employees. By simplifying mobility, the Jaguar Network CEO aims to foster employee loyalty and help develop a fully-formed digital ecosystem ready to host new one of Europe's most connected smart districts.

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