A titanic undertaking
Our two Marseilles-based companies, Vivian & Cie and Compagnons de Castellane, have been working since September 2020 on the rehabilitation of the Roquefavour aqueduct.
Built between 1841 and 1847, the Roquefavour aqueduct is located between the communes of Aix-en-Provence and Ventabren. Still in operation, it carries water from the Durance to 57 communes, including Marseille. For some years now, stone falls have been reported on the railway line under the aqueduct. The stone used for its construction does not stand up well to the ravages of time, particularly the cycles of freezing and thawing, and ends up disintegrating. A vast restoration operation was therefore launched under the direction of François Botton, Chief Architect of Historic Monuments.
This is a major project for our two houses, as the Roquefavour aqueduct, classified as a Historic Monument since 2005, is the largest stone aqueduct in the world, 375 metres long and 83 metres high. Its restoration therefore requires extraordinary infrastructures: a scaffolding of more than 1300 tons has been installed to restore the first third of the aqueduct, the largest scaffolding in France after that of Notre Dame de Paris! In addition, the aqueduct will have to remain in operation throughout the work.
On this site, Vivian & Cie and Compagnons de Castellane are mobilising some fifteen companions who are working on the cleaning by micro-gumming and the treatment of the stone blocks that can be preserved, but above all on the replacement of stones that are too damaged. To replace them, the stones selected are extracted from the quarries of Massangis (Yonne) and Ampilly-le-Sec (Côte d’Or). These stones have the same aesthetic characteristics as the original stone but have proven to be more resistant to time. The blocks, which are exceptionally large and can weigh up to 3 tonnes, are cut directly by the workers at the foot of the structure or in the workshop before being transported to their final location on the structure. The work should be completed in January 2024.