Artist Installs Floating Piers on Italian Lake

Jun 14, 2016 2 comments

A three-kilometer-long floating walkway made up of 220,000 high-density polyethylene cubes connect two small islands to the shore on Lake Iseo, on Italy’s Lombardy region, some 100 km east of Milan. The project which is being overseen by 80 year-old Bulgarian-born artist Christo Vladimirov Yavachev, has been going on since last November and is on its final leg. Although it appears bright white now, the 100,000 square meter walkway will be covered by a shimmering yellow fabric when it opens for visitors on June 18. The walkway will remain open for only 16 days, until July 3, during which half-a-million visitors are expected to walk on it. The experience will be like, as the artist describes, “walking on the back of a whale”.


Photo credit: Luca Bruno/AP

Lake Iseo, also known as Sebino, is a small jewel of the Italian territory surrounded by magnificent mountains and valleys of the provinces of Brescia and Bergamo. Formed by the River Oglio, with a surface area of over 65 square km, the lake is home to the islets of San Paolo and Loreto. Monte Isola, on the lake’s middle, is Europe’s largest inhabited lake island.

The walkway starts from Sulzano, extending clear across the water, to Monte Isola, and then continues to the island of San Paolo which it completely encircles. To assemble the “Floating Piers”, the artist brought in a team of athletes from his native Bulgaria and divers to anchor them to concrete slabs on the lake-floor. To sew the yellow fabric, he recruited a team of German seamstresses and gave them specially made sewing machines. 150 volunteers, among them lifeguards, will be posted on the piers and on boats around the clock to ensure safety. The entire project cost €15 million and was financed entirely by the artist. There will be no entrance fee for visitors.

The concept of the floating piers was conceived together with Christo's creative and life partner Jeanne-Claude way back in 1970 when they drew up plans to float a 2,000 meter long inflated pier on the delta of the Rio de la Plata in Argentina. Later, they proposed similar plans for Tokyo Bay but was denied permit.

Jeanne-Claude passed away in 2009, but Christo continued to pursue their dream. In 2014, he chose Lake Iseo for its calm waters and simple shoreline against the majestic Alpine foothills that some believe may have inspired the background of Leonardo's Mona Lisa.


Photo credit: Luca Bruno/AP


Photo credit: Luca Bruno/AP


Photo credit: Wolfgang Volz


Photo credit: Wolfgang Volz


Photo credit: Luca Bruno/AP


Photo credit: Wolfgang Volz


Photo credit: Wolfgang Volz


Photo credit: Wolfgang Volz


Photo credit: Wolfgang Volz


Photo credit: Wolfgang Volz


Photo credit: Wolfgang Volz

Sources: Design Boom / The Guardian /


  1. 16 days....then what happens to ALL THAT PLASTIC!!??


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