Inventing the future of the workplace in the Aix-Marseille-Provence

Inventing the future of the workplace in the Aix-Marseille-Provence
10 September 2020 / invest in provence, Relocate to France, Smart Cities

Launch of a joint reflection with the Association of Real Estate Directors (ADI)

During Paris Real Estate Week (the much-anticipated return of real estate events in France), the country's second-largest metropolitan area will embark on an exploration of the future of workplaces with real estate managers for French CAC40 companies. This collaboration will begin with discussions inspired by a case study of Aix-Marseille-Provence after a tour of some of the area's symbolic urban projects. The two-day event, spanning September 17-18, 2020, is organized by the Euroméditerranée public planning body and Provence Promotion, the economic development agency, as part of their mission to strengthen the region's relationships with the offices of major employers in the metropolitan area.

What are the expectations of new generations of employees and how can they be met? What are the best solutions to create the workplace of the future?

To address the growing workplace needs of the region's major employers, in terms of their current and future operations, developers and large companies ‒ pillars of the local economy ‒ are coming together for a seminar to explore these questions. The event will take place in the inspiring setting of thecamp, the campus of the future dedicated to innovation near Aix-en-Provence, on September 17 and 18, 2020.

This initial, two-day seminar is the start of a dialogue held over three months between a group of real estate professionals based at the head offices of these companies that embody the region's offering ‒ the metropolitan area, chamber of commerce and industry, Euroméditerranée, seaport and airport. The ideas explored will be summarized in an ADI publication distributed at SIMI, the Paris corporate real estate trade show. Jacques Perpère, Secretary General in Charge of Future Planning for ADI and Head of International Real Estate at Airbus Group, the number one private employer in our region, persuaded his peers to take part in this collaborative effort.

The Aix-Marseille-Provence metropolitan area is the biggest and most populated urban area in France after Greater Paris. Reflections on mobility, centrality and mixed use are key concerns in new projects undertaken in urban planning, office buildings and residential constructions. The Euroméditerranée 2 eco-city, whose vision is shepherded by Hugues Parant, Director General of Euroméditerranée, encompasses the new Smartseille and Les Fabriques eco-neighborhoods. These districts were made to accommodate mixed uses, with co-working spaces for makers and even services shared by residents and employees, which will serve as a concrete illustration for the real estate managers as they tour these areas.

Buildings connected to submarine cable hubs are a must

Since the coronavirus crisis, as companies look at where to open offices, they are paying close attention to the ability to continue conducting business remotely with employees dispersed around the world. This new consideration must factor into the location of future relay sites, for example. In France, two hubs connect the country to the rest of the world: Paris and Marseille. Fabrice Coquio, Chairman-CEO of Interxion France, and Jérôme Lebon, Deputy Managing Director of Crédit Agricole Alps Provence, will address this topic during the seminar. The Aix-Marseille area is on track to have one of the world's five highest concentrations of submarine cables.

Downtown areas revitalized for work

While the trend toward telecommuting and remote meetings has intensified, there is still a vital need to gather. City centers are home to more and more co-working spaces and third places which allow people to get together, as well as office buildings that are alternatives to business districts. 

A pleasant, well-equipped downtown also offers an attractive work environment to employees. Renovation projects like the ones under way at Rue de la République in Marseille are encouraging employers to return to city centers. This Haussmann-like street, one of the longest in France, will be studied with Laurent Fléchet, COO of Primonial, as an example of a larger complex that is seeing new work spaces open in the first and sixth districts of Marseille.

The notion of wellness is also a reality that is being incorporated in the La Poste Colbert rehabilitation project in Marseille ‒ the largest office project initiated by La Poste in the region as part of its Village La Poste strategy. Some 400 employees from 11 departments and five different sites will converge in this historic building with nearly 15,000 m2 reinvented under the direction of Rémi Feredj, CEO of Poste-Immo. 

In architecture as in urban planning, building is first and foremost a meditation on how we live. From the top of the La Marseillaise tower ‒ designed by Jean Nouvel and recently inaugurated at Euroméditerranée ‒ the participating real estate managers will reflect on these site visits to begin a conversation.

Planning for the future at thecamp

With its campus at the base of Mount Sainte Victoire, thecamp is where the real estate managers will come together to share their thoughts.

The goal is to begin to define a shared vision of what is needed from work spaces in the future, based on the tours and their own experiences.

As engaged actors committed to nurturing the region's ongoing relations with the leadership at the major private employers in Aix-Marseille-Provence, Jean-Luc Chauvin, President of Provence Promotion and of the Aix Marseille Provence Chamber of Commerce and Industry, and Bernard Deflesselles, National Assembly member and regional councilman, fully support this initiative and will participate in the discussions.