A word from the editor. Dear followers, on December 26th 2017 a mean hacker attack invalidated the entire Montecarlotimes’website. Today we are pleased to re-publish some of the most liked posts. Yours truly, Ilio Masprone – Knight of the Principality of Monaco for cultural merits, with the Team.

by Eleonora Pedron MONACO. During 150 years Monaco, perched on its rocky outcrop in the Mediterranean, has reclaimed 40 hectares of land from the sea. Now that process is set to continue with plans for the new offshore extension, Portier Cove, to be completed by 2020. It will help Monaco continue to welcome new millionaires residents, as since 2012 600 more people per year have settled in the Principality. “There are not many countries that can expand without wars or annexation,” said Michel Roger, Minister of State. “Monaco needs this extension because we’re cramped on two square kilometres, because high-rise construction and underground construction are not enough to answer our housing needs. They don’t provide enough living space for the new residents who move to Monaco.” The signing of the concession took place in the presence of Minister of State of Monaco Michel Roger and representatives of the construction companies at the end of the year 2016. In 2017, Prince Albert II announced the winner out of the four candidates who tendered: the Bouygues Travaux Publics grouping that includes Monegasque firms, such as J.-B. Pastor & Fils, and the renowned architecture practices Valode & Pistre, Alexandre Giraldi and Renzo Piano.


Architect rendering of the Portier Cove building site filled with water (Credit: Valode & Pistre)

 As for the Genoese Renzo Piano, father of the Pompidou Centre in Paris and the Shard in London, he will design a signature building at the entrance of the new marina. “In the same way a sailboat is ecological by nature, a building that talks to the sea has to be ecological,” Piano says. “One must feel the desire for lightness, the opposite of gluttony, when it comes to energy. The building has to be able to take the sun’s energy with solar panels, it has to be able to exchange heat with the sea.” Together, the sun and the sea will provide 40% of the new district’s energy needs. The Grimaldi Forum, built 15 years ago, is the role model. For the peninsula’s creators the Grimaldi building was the obvious template as, beyond the challenges linked to offshore construction, they are aiming for a synthesis of technology, beauty and ecology, as Piano explains: “Everybody dreams of building something on the water. But still, people who take a walk have to be able to see the sea. So, we need this building to float, we need it to be lifted.”

Architect rendering of the Portier Cove building site (Credit: Renzo Piano)

Still the eco-conscious prince Albert II – who drives an electric car and has donated millions through his foundation to environmental causes – is adamant further land expansion in his country must now be carefully weighed up against environmental concerns.  The unique challenge for Portier Cove is that the builders are being asked to meet international sustainable urban development certifications including the HQE Aménagement, Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method standard and the Clean Ports label. It is hoped the formidable challenge will become a flagship example that other growing countries will look to follow. Work started in the last quarter of 2016 with the removal of protected marine species – Posidonia meadow and noble pen shells –, which has been relocated in nearby natural reserves. Special screens insulate the construction site to minimise its impact on the environment. The soft soil has been removed to lay bare the rocky seabed, foundation for a layer of rocky material. Reinforced hollow concrete blocks standing on the site’s borders create a protective belt, their facades designed to attract marine life. Sand has been injected into the concrete belt perimeter to create the artificial peninsula. During the celebrations of the 40th anniversary of the AMPN -Monegasque Association for the Protection of Nature – on February 2017, Albert II personally coordinated the delivery of 3D printed coral reefs by Boskalis, a Dutch company of maritime services.

H.S.H. Prince Albert II of Monaco

In collaboration with the Foundation Prince Albert II of Monaco, the AMPN and the Italian company 3D-Shape leaded by Enrico Dini, Boskalis was chosen because it uses a particular type of sand dolomite. Some projects using concrete partly failed the marine habitat reproduction. The rather slow animals’ colonization process was probably due to the reefs’ unrealistic look. The success of the futuristic project is due the 3D blocks, designed by Enrico Dini’s D-Shape Company. “So many artificial reefs have failed because they are not suited to the specific location where they were placed,” explained Astrid Kramer, the environment biologist of the company. “The Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation supports ethical and sustainable projects, with a particular focus on climate change, the development of renewable energies and the protection of biodiversity. We were able to present the project to the HSH the Prince and President of the Foundation during his visit to the Netherlands. At Boskalis, together with the D-Shape’s project had just won the Innovation Challenge, the synergy was immediate: the Foundation was looking for new solutions to increase the actual artificial reefs, and Boskalis wanted to implement its knowledge on the topic, managing the design phases and monitoring the performance level,” said Kramer. Each block measuring 1.2 x 2 meters for two and a half tons of weight is made with special dolomitic sand and special adhesive substances, and it requires thirteen hours to be printed. The first artificial reefs have been placed at 27 meters deep off the coast of the Principality last winter, next to the existing natural coral reef, in Portier Cove. Transportation and immersion of the blocks in the reserve was conducted in partnership by the laboratory Ecomers University of Nice-Sophia Antipolis, the Monaco Environment Directorate, the Directorate of Maritime Affairs and by the divers of the Compagnie des Carabiniers du Prince together with the AMPN’s divers.

In connection with the first work on the Offshore Urban Extension Project in the Portier Cove, a Sovereign Ordinance has been published in the Journal de Monaco of Friday 3 February 2017 to establish a “working area in which access to the public is forbidden.”  (Sovereign Ordinance No. 6.256 of 30 January 2017 regulating navigation, anchoring, fishing, underwater fishing, sea bathing and water sports and underwater diving in the working area of the Offshore Urban Extension Project in the Portier Cove: this area, marked by yellow buoys, extends from the Larvotto Marine Reserve in the east to the Spélugues coral reef in the west.  Sailing and anchoring boats is strictly forbidden in this area.  Fishing, underwater fishing, bathing and underwater diving are also prohibited in this zone. Adjacent to this area, “a working area in which anchoring boats is forbidden” extends across a strip 60 metres offshore, in front of the Larvotto Marine Reserve in the east to the Spélugues coral reef in the west. These two areas have been created for safety reasons, giving access only to ships involved in operations related to the Offshore Urban Extension Project.  Underwater diving in connection with this work will also be permitted. In fact, as “… the future of Montecarlo is in the sea”, Albert II wishes to create a new marine ecosystem, following the will of his ancestor Prince Albert I of Monaco, explorer of the seas and founder of the Oceanographic Museum. It’s not just the construction that is complex, so too is the financing of the project, as Michel Roger explains: “The State of Monaco will own the off-shore peninsula, there will be promenades, gardens, a new sea front promenade and car parks and public spaces. The Principality will see its territory expand by six hectares at no costs at all to the State.” The two billion euro project will be financed entirely by private construction companies, who will profit from the sale of 60,000 square meters of luxury flats, villas and retail space.


The Forum’s building manager, Alain Melkonian, says it uses cutting-edge eco-technology and design: “It’s the process we use to capture and evacuate calories that’s the precursor to this. We capture calories in the sea with the pumping stations and these calories are then transferred to the heat pumps that create heat and cold.” The heating and air conditioning of all of its 75,000 m2 are controlled 20 metres below sea level. “We call this place ‘the cathedral’ in reference to all these pipes that surround us and remind us of the pipes of a church organ,” says Melkonian. Moreover, there are the most innovative and commensurate parking areas into the seven underground floors. The fact is that, just as twenty years ago a proportioned to housing cars’ parking started to be imperative, by now it is imperative to start to feeding the planet in the most responsible and sustainable way. As we said, the complex is to be completed by 2020…future has never been so close.


(Main Source: originally partly published by Euronews)

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