The opulent Champs-Élysées in Paris is primed for an ornate new attraction. Six rotating fountains made with Swarovski crystals will be unveiled on the famous avenue later this month.
The translucent sculptures are already being installed on a roundabout at the Rond-Point des Champs-Élysées, a historic crossroads about halfway up the boulevard and just over a kilometer from its centerpiece, the Arc de Triomphe. They will operate until October, taking up a position on an avenue with a storied history of displaying public art, including fountains by the legendary glass designer René Lalique.
A digital rendering of the fountains, looking toward the Arc de Triomphe. Credit: Studio Bouroullec
But the timing and elaborate design of the new sculptures could raise questions, given their location on an avenue filled each weekend by anti-government “yellow vest” protesters.
The Champs-Élysées has been chosen as the focal point of the “yellow vest” demonstrations, which have taken place for 16 consecutive weekends and have seen some activists vandalizing the area.
The privately-financed 6.3 million euro ($7.1m) project is the latest work by renowned French brothers Erwan and Ronan Bouroullec, whose design repertoire includes a contemporary chandelier built for the Palace of Versailles in 2013.
A digital rendering of the fountains from above. Credit: Studio Bouroullec
The fountains are the first permanent, public installation to use Swarovski crystals in an outdoor space, the brothers said. They hope the fountains will take the mantle from Lalique by “reaffirming the major place of the Rond-point des Champs-Élysées in the heart of Parisian life.”
The fountains in production. Credit: Mark Cocksedge
Each sculpture “turns slowly on itself so that the fountains come alive throughout the year according to the seasons,” the brothers write in a paper detailing the designs. They are composed of a central bronze mast holding three crystal branches, through which water will flow vertically.
Overall, the project has used more than 5,360 pieces assembled by workers in more than 35 workshops across France and Austria.
Top image: A digital rendering of fountains being set up on the Champs-Elysees, designed by the Bouroullec brothers.