‘Billionaires’ Quay’ restoration on the French Riveria transforms Europe’s largest yachting harbour

Largest marina in the Mediterranean regenerated with sustainable Kebony wood

In Port Vauban, Antibes, lying between Cannes and Nice on the French Riviera, the Quai des Milliardaires – ‘Billionaires’ Quay’ – has undergone an extensive transformation, consolidating its position as the leading yachting hub in the Mediterranean. A paradise for yachting and super yachting enthusiasts, Port Vauban is Europe’s largest yachting harbour, with over 1,500 berths and 18 superyacht berths of up to 160 metres.

Since May 2023, both the quay and IYCA (International Yacht Club d’Antibes) building – which houses a yacht club, bar, and crew centre – have been renovated to renew both the appearance and infrastructure of the quay, making it the centre of a 21st century port, focused on offering a range of high-end, high-quality utilities, combining amenities, technical services, a concierge service, and festive and sports events. Also crucial was preserving its refined aesthetic appearance that complements the architectural character of the local area and surrounding landscape, with the terraces of the Quai des Milliardaires facing the Mediterranean horizon on one side, and the heritage old town and Fort Carré on the other.

The entire complex now boasts a distinctive and compelling architecture, masterminded by Atelier d’Architecture Philippe Prost, combining traditional heritage techniques with cutting edge construction technology and materials. Concrete, stainless steel, marble, intelligent glass, and ceramics are blended to produce an engaging visual façade, while the decking surfaces of the quay itself, as well as the stairs, pontoons, benches, and handrails, have been made from environmentally friendly Kebony Clear wood. Its elegant knot-free appearance and silvery patina allow it to blend harmoniously into this prestigious setting, whilst its enhanced durability and minimal maintenance requirements – guaranteed for 30 years – mean it can withstand all the demands of an exposed marine environment.

Developed in Norway, Kebony transforms sustainable softwoods, such as pine, into products with comparable aesthetic and mechanical characteristics to tropical hardwoods. This diverts the need for deforestation of the planet’s vital rainforest sinks, helping to reduce CO₂ emissions.

The wood is first infused with a bio-based liquid, activating a reaction in the wood cell walls to become 50% thicker, increasing the dimensional stability, durability, and hardness of the wood. The resulting Kebony wood has a significantly reduced water sensitivity and does not splinter which, alongside its minimal environmental impact and refined aesthetic finish, made it the ideal material to deal with the high levels of weathering and intensive use in the coastal setting of the Quai des Milliardaires.

As the lead architects from Atelier d’Architecture Philippe Prost commented, “The desire to use strips of wood for large outdoor terraces came early on, by analogy with boat decks. Kebony wood was chosen for its aesthetic qualities, its durability – particularly in a highly exposed marine environment – and for its natural character.”

Nina Landbø , International Sales Manager for Kebony, adds: “The regeneration of Quai des Milliardaires represents the versatility of Kebony, providing a simultaneously sustainable, beautiful, and high performing modified wood product that will last for many years to come.”