El Hadi Jazairy
Dorin Baul, Peyton Coles, Pooja Dalal, Shaoxuan Dong, John Ewanowski, Anthony Killian, Christina Kull, Li Li, Daniel McTavish, Kanika Singh
At 1.98 km2, Monaco is the smallest city-state after the Vatican and one of the densest cities in the world. The principality also has one of the world’s most expensive real estate markets at $65,000 per square meter. Why is land in high demand in Monaco? Historically, the principality has capitalized on a constructed offshore legal and tax regime as well as a luxury tourist economy. However, Monaco has not always been a model of economic success. In the mid-nineteenth century Monaco ceded 95% of its territory to France for 4 million francs, and recognition as a sovereign protectorate of France. While ensuring its existence as a sovereign state, Monaco now faced financial difficulties after the loss of tax revenue from its ceded territory. To guarantee its economic survival, the city took advantage of its exceptional condition. The inclusion of Monaco in the newly built French railway system (1868), and the construction of a new luxury casino and sea bathing facility on the shores of the Mediterranean (1863), based on the casino and spa facility in Bad Homburg, Germany, saw an increase in tourist traffic, becoming one of the primary sources of income for the House of Grimaldi and subsequently Monaco. Stimulated by a continuous demand for growth, Monaco has turned to the sea since 1907 for its land needs. Initial expansion was for industrial and infrastructural purposes, however, since the 1960s land reclamation has been geared towards the development of residential, leisure and tourist programs. Through these land reclamation projects the territory only expanded by a quarter of its total area while the population multiplied by a factor of twenty. Today, Monaco requires additional area for development to accommodate an average of 300, 000 square meters of gross floor area per decade. The city has already engaged in systematic urban restructuring to place its infrastructures underground in order to liberate surface for development. Still, it expects a “ground-deficit” as of 2020. The research explores the architectural and urban potentials of the principality (economic, social, political, geographic, ecologic, etc.), proposing a total of 300, 000 square meters through ten strategic projects across the city. The projects address the challenges of densification and horizontal expansion. Indeed, densification has reached a paroxysm competing with ‘vertical cities’ such as Macau, while horizontal expansion implies either a presence in French Territory or the urbanization of the sea with its associated ecological and economic challenges.