French construction giant Bouygues has given a press conference to explain how it plans to go about extending the land area of the microstate of Monaco by reclaiming 6ha of land from the sea.
In most other places on earth, the idea of spending €2bn to create such a small area would defy economic logic, however the principality occupies a little over 200ha, making it the second smallest country in the world, after the Vatican.
This space is inhabited almost exclusively by luxury homes and casinos – one of which is the Monte Carlo. Studio flats here cost between €2,600 and €3,500 a month to rent, and the purchase price of apartments for the super-rich go as high as €310m.
The conference was held in Marseilles and addressed by Philippe Bonnave, the chairman and chief executive of Bouygues Construction, as well as Jean-Claude Gaudin, the mayor of Marseilles.
The reclamation will be accomplished using 18 prefabricated caissons, which will be floated into position using a 10,000 tonne floating dock called a caissonnier.
This will be made from poured concrete and will measure 56m by 50m in length and width, and 27m in height. It will be the first such structure to be built in France, and Bouygues said it would provide a template for similar schemes in the future.
The caissons will be hollow when deployed at the Grand Maritime Port, and thereafter filled with ballast and used as stanchions to support a sea wall.
Philippe Bonnave demonstrates a caissons in Marseilles (Government of Monaco)
A video of the construction methods – and Bouygues’ elaborate attempts to pre-empt environmental protests – can be seen on here.
Bonnave said the cost of this part of the scheme would come to €840m. All the money for the scheme is to be come from private investors.
The company intends to begin work on this part of the project in September, after which it envisages a two-year timetable to fabricate caissons and the cassonier. The work will be carried out in the port of Phocéen, Monaco’s next-door neighbour to the east.
Bouygues began dredging polluted sand from the site at the end of last August.
The seawater is expected to be pumped out by November 2020. When this is done, hundreds of thousands of tonnes of sand will be quarried, washed at Toulon and transported to Monaco to raise the level of the land. After that, work will begin on 120 luxury dwellings, 3,000 shops, an underground carpark, an extension of the Grimaldi Forum, a marina and a 1ha park.
The construction of the new district, to be called the Portier, will be completed by 2025.
The principality has already reclaimed more than 40ha from the sea, equivalent to 20% of its territory. The Larvotto project, a more ambitious scheme to reclaim 15ha of land, was abandoned in 2008 when the risk profile was deemed unacceptable. Â
Top image: The planned extension of the Portier district (Bouygues)