bouroullec brothers re-imagine champs-élysées fountains with swarovski crystal chains
 

bouroullec brothers re-imagine champs-élysées fountains with swarovski crystal chains

ronan and erwan bouroullec have joined forces with swarovski to bring new life to a historic site in central paris. situated in the basins of the rond-point des champs-élysées, six new fountains are composed of a central bronze mast on which suspended branches support an ensemble of crystal chains. the water rises through the mast, before descending through the crystal to fall into the basin along the last four meters of the fountain. each of the six structures rotate slowly, creating a delicate choreography of light and water.

bouroullec champs elysees fountains swarovski
image © claire lavabre – studio bouroullec

 

 

‘our aim was to blend into the urban landscape, to highlight as delicately as possible the view between place de la concorde and place de l’etoile, and to subtly mark the passage from the peace and quiet of the gardens to the bustle of the avenue des champs-elysées,’ explains ronan and erwan bouroullec. the geometry of the fountains was designed to align with the surrounding trees, while the precision of the ensemble results in a balance between the monumentality of the structure and the finesse of its composition and materials.

bouroullec champs elysees fountains swarovski
image © claire lavabre – studio bouroullec

 

 

swarovski engineers spent a year developing a crystal which would meet all the requirements of the project — a material appropriate for outdoor use, resistant to shocks, and capable of integrating water and light. a new patent was filed for this tailor-made crystal which is both light and delicate, yet ultra-resistant in an urban environment. thanks to cutting-edge technology, this new matter proves to be 30% lighter than standard crystal.

bouroullec champs elysees fountains swarovski
image © claire lavabre – studio bouroullec

 

 

with its robustness and fine-tuned engineering, it also meets the solidity and easy maintenance criteria required of installations destined for long-term, outdoor use. thanks to a silvering on the inside of the cylinders, the colors of the crystal vary depending on the seasons and the light at a given time of the day or night. in this way, the matter almost disappears to become a gentle vibration.

bouroullec champs elysees fountains swarovski
image © charles pétillon

 

 

the first fountain on the historic site was created in 1817. deemed a disruption to traffic flow, the centrally positioned fountain was demolished in 1854. in its place, six individual basins surrounding the roundabout were designed. these new fountains originally consisted of a bundle of reeds in cast-iron, from which the water flowed. in 1932, master glass-maker rené lalique added glass and light to the structures.

bouroullec champs elysees fountains swarovski
image © studio bouroullec

 

 

however, these ornamental additions were sadly too fragile and were replaced in 1958 by the more sober and robust designs of max ingrand. in 1998, the advanced state of deterioration of ingrand’s pieces, coupled with the faulty hydraulic system, led to the definitive shutdown of the fountains.

bouroullec champs elysees fountains swarovski
image © charles pétillon

 

 

in 2015, the mayor of paris, anne hidalgo, established fonds pour paris, a private organization whose aim is to ‘raise funds through patronage for the restoration of parisian heritage and the emergence of contemporary art in public spaces.’ funded entirely through patronage, and achieved in just three years, the rebirth of the six fontaines des champs-elysées is the first project led by the foundation. ‘the best way to reinvent the city is to bring art into the public space and restore its heritage,’ says hidalgo.

bouroullec champs elysees fountains swarovski
image © charles pétillon

 

 

the project to bring the champs-élysées fountains back to life involved more than 250 people from 40 workshops and companies. everything began with the restoration of the basins and underground infrastructures, led by eau de paris, the city of paris works division (heritage, roadside & environment) and the companies belle-environnement, conserto, segex, and automatismes seguin.

bouroullec champs elysees fountains swarovski
image © charles pétillon

 

 

the artistic design came next, steered from the bouroullec workshop in paris, followed by its implementation by atelier blam lemunier & meyer in nantes, which orchestrated the intervention of some 35 companies including SACMO, la nouvelle fonderie gillet in albi, and LBI les bronzes d’industrie in metz. at the same time, the engineers at swarovski in wattens, austria worked in close collaboration with the bouroullecs.

bouroullec champs elysees fountains swarovski
image © ilightfilms

 

 

‘over the course of three years, around 50 models, including five in real-size, and as many development steps were required to adjust all the technical and aesthetic aspects of this work,’ the bouroullecs explain. ‘the expertise and cutting-edge technologies of the forty workshops and companies who took part in this unique adventure, and the sharing of knowledge and skills are what enabled us to develop this exceptional project.’

bouroullec champs elysees fountains swarovski
image © charles pétillon

bouroullec champs elysees fountains swarovski
image © ilightfilms

 

video © ilightfilms

bouroullec champs elysees fountains swarovski
image © studio bouroullec

 

 

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