Commissioned by
  • the town of Marseille
  • region PACA
  • Fondation de France
  • Cabanon Vertical

The Gecko #1 and #2 projects were commissioned as part of France’s “Politique de la Ville” urban renewal policy, initiated in conjunction with the redevelopment of the Bellevue / Saint Mauront district in Marseille.

With a view toward promoting change and renewal in the district, Cabanon Vertical established a participatory initiative for residents that aimed to improve public space. People in the neighbourhood were asked to take part in a shared assessment to ensure that their views on the area and their vision for public space would be incorporated into future development projects.

For Gecko #2, the location chosen – a low wall and a few benches near the entrance to the Félix Piat housing estate – was already heavily used by residents. Over time, the spot had grown to become a meeting place for members of the Comorian community. The men meet there to play a traditional game from Comoros and to talk. Olivier Bedu choose to offer them a way to improve the space, by designing elements suited to their uses: improved seating, especially for groups, and wider seats with more potential seating arrangements. A dialogue was established and the regulars suggested shaded areas and shelters to protect against the rain. The place identified at the outset of the project became the site of the design. The visible progression of the Gecko #1 work site a few metres away gave residents an idea of the potential end product, aroused their curiosity and led them to formulate more specific preferences. The use of the space was designed by combining the residents’ vision with that of Olivier Badu. The space, which was built by young people for an older generation, has been adopted by the residents as their own.

In the Gecko #1 and #2 projects, art and function go hand in hand. The creation of the spaces drew from a sculptural approach: take inspiration from a given situation to create a potential public space, on a local scale that fits residents’ daily lives. The “gecko” represents more than a reptile that basks in the sun – it uses its suction-cup feet to adapt and find its place in the nooks and crannies.

Non recherche-action plateforme socialdesign
Cadre budgétaire
  • 95 600 €
  • (for the 2 Geckos)
Project duration
  • september 2015
  • Cité Bellevue, Marseille, France