Walking on water

The Floating Piers on Lake Iseo

Christo und Jeanne-Claude

16 days in 2016

Over 1,200,000 people visited Christo and Jeanne-Claude’s The Floating Piers during its 16 days from June 18 through July 3, 2016.

The temporary work of art featured fabric-covered piers 3 kilometers in length, constructed across the water of Italy’s Lake Iseo, and continued along 2.5 kilometers of pedestrian streets in Sulzano and Peschiera Maraglio.

For a short time only

The Floating Piers was first conceived in 1970. Christo and Jeanne-Claude later found Lake Iseo to be the most inspiring location to realize this project.

The lake’s water, the landscape, and the communities around it have all been part of The Floating Piers. An important part of this project is the temporary part, it has a nomadic quality – this is why after 16 days it was gone.

Free and accessible

The Floating Piers were free and accessible to the public, no tickets or reservations were required. Local authorities requested The Floating Piers close at night to accommodate the community of Monte Isola’s sanitation needs.

On average over 72,000 people a day from around the world experienced The Floating Piers and explored the hosting communities around Lake Iseo, which offered food and drinks, and places for hikes where visitors could take in different vantage points of the piers.

Hotels, restaurants, bars, and shops recorded astonishing attendance, and images of Lake Iseo were broadcast on the major international networks. For the small island it’s been a challenge people enthusiastically met as this experience will have lasting impact on the future of the tourist industry of the area.

Success and perspectives

The Floating Piers has been a great success. The project provided new perspectives for inhabitants around the lake. It allowed to rediscover the surroundings and the value of the lake’s inner beauty, which can sometimes be underestimated. The Lake Iseo area hosted over a million visitors, offering an unforgettable artistic experience and allowing people to learn about a hidden corner of Italy. The attendance of visitors and all the investments brought by The Floating Piers benefits the local economy.

Christo financed the entire cost of The Floating Piers, approximately 18,000,000 Euros, including the assembly, installation, maintenance, security, and removal of the work of art. The artist does not accept sponsorship.

Over 1,000 people were employed by The Floating Piers. All project workers were paid, there were no volunteers, including manufacturers, engineers, building contractors, divers, pier monitors, lifeguards, boat captains, and security personnel. The majority of the monitors, which provided round-the-clock coverage on the piers, were local Italian residents from the Lombardy region.

Materials and Removal

After the projet was finished, materials were industrially recycled for use in a variety of applications. All components of The Floating Piers have been removed over the course of three months, leaving Lake Iseo „as if we were never here.”

 

The Floating Piers included:

  • 220,000 high-density polyethylene cubes and pins, manufactured by four different companies in Northern Italy, used to create a modular floating dock system on Lake Iseo.
  • 100,000 square meters of nylon fabric and 80,000 square meters of felt to cover 3 kilometers over the piers on water and 2.5 kilometers of pedestrian streets. The yellow-dahlia fabric as well as the felt underlay will be re-manufactured and used in the production of new fabric products. The fabric may also be ground into a filler and used in such products as carpet underlayment.
  • 200 concrete dead-weight anchors, weighing 5.5 tons each, specifically designed for the project. The anchors, used under water to hold the piers in place, will all be carefully removed from the lakebed and milled/shredded for filler and industrial re-use.

We will miss projects like this one very much.

We did this.

Companies involved & Links

Artist

Christo and Jeanne-Claude

Address

Monte Isola
I-25050 Brecia

Photos

Wolfgang Volz

Author

Johannes Bühlbecker
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