architecture

A city in the sky: the urban imagination in Nantes

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A 50-metre-diameter steel tree, a "city in the sky" made up of 22 branches more than a kilometre long, hanging gardens and a bestiary of mechanical birds: this is the crazy project imagined by the authors of Les Machines de l'île and La Machine à Nantes company.
 
« L"Tree of Herons" - that's its name - is an incredible artistic adventure and a technical and industrial challenge. Since 2007, more than five million visitors have discovered the special world of Machines on the Ile de Nantes. Inspired by the worlds of Jules Verne and Leonardo da Vinci, it is a totally new artistic project. After the Great Elephant and the Machine Gallery in 2007, the Carrousel des Mondes Marins in 2012, the Heron Tree is the third phase of the island's machines. Born from the imagination of François Delaroziere and Pierre Orefice, it will take place on the banks of the Loire, a few metres from the house where Jules Verne spent his adolescence and where Jean-Jacques Audubon grew up and drew his first herons.
 
The Shaft is made of steel, measures 50m in diameter and culminates at 35m. It is surmounted by two giant Herons who take turns to embark about twenty passengers for a circular flight.
The 22 branches of the Tree have a developed length of more than one kilometre, of which 500 metres are accessible to the public. The plant is rooted in steel and the public has access to incredible gardens that it discovers from branch to branch as in a succession of suspended terraces connected to each other.
This City in the Sky is also home to a whole bestiary of animals...
 
 
L'Arbre will be located in a quarry, a granite setting facing the Loire River. Its south-facing orientation gives it a real microclimate. Whether you arrive on foot, by shuttle bus by the river or from the top of the quarry, the image of L'Arbre stands out, united with the cliffs of the Sillon de Bretagne whose natural vegetation will magnify the hanging gardens. The Heron Tree will make this quarry one of the most beautiful "urban gardens in the world".
Of course there will be interactions between the Tree, the cliffs and the garden. The project continues to evolve!
 
Imagine a nine-year-old child sitting on the back of the Heron. In front of him, the Heron's head cuts into the sky, his eyes move, his beak and neck are mobile. To the right and left, he can see the bird's two large wings flapping slowly to control its flight. The child flies, he feels each flapping of the wings and is part of the animal .
 
 
Visitors to the City in the Sky witness all the phases of flight that magnify the animal and the machine. This trip is even crazier than boarding the Great Elephant! 
 
 
Hanging Gardens
Since the opening of Les Machines de l'île in 2007, the creators have been studying an ecosystem specific to the Tree through the prototype branch, which has already been visited by more than four million visitors. This branch prefigures one of the 22 branches that will make up theHeron tree. In particular, this allowed them to test the solidity, safety and vegetalization of these hanging gardens. The containers that hold the plants allow trees to be planted within the tree itself. Currently, they are experimenting with the implantation of micro-landscapes in the forks of the branches.
 
 
In theHeron TreeAccess to the hanging gardens is via a double spiral staircase located inside the trunk: one is for ascending, the other for descending. The public uses the vegetalized branches and footbridges to go from one branch to the other and reach the top of the tree. From the lookouts, 30 m above the ground, they discover the Herons, the Loire and Nantes. The route through the hanging gardens ends on a bar-terrace set up on a low branch. The capacity of the gardens is 300 people.
 
A'Heron Tree is a city machine accessible to all. As with the Great Elephant On its trail, the public will come freely to discover and observe this City in the sky.
 

The mechanical bestiary of the city in the sky

All the animals that will populate theHeron Tree are built in the workshop of the company La Machine. They will take turns being tested in the Galerie des Machines and tested by the public until 2021. Research and construction work will continue to enrich this mechanical bestiary.
Since February 10th of this year, a large 1/5th scale model of the trunk, branches, props and roots assembly is present in the Gallery and the first elements of the mechanical aviary are to be discovered: a giant hummingbird gathering a flower as well as a flight of wild geese.
 
In 2022, visitors will discover throughout their stroll through the hanging gardens, strange mechanical animals that live and come to life in the Tree: giant ants and spiders, caterpillars, insects, mammals, rodents and of course mechanical birds. During these four years of the Tree's construction, there will be about thirty animals that will populate the City in the sky.
 

La Compagnie La Machine

It is thus in the workshop of the company La Machine that the'Heron Tree is designed and built by an exceptional team of inventors. All the models and prototypes currently in the study and calculation phase are presented to the public in the Machine Gallery.
 
 
More than 40 trades cross in this place of creation: from design office engineers to painters, from boilermaker-welders to cabinetmakers, sculptors, carpenters. All of them pool their know-how and sensitivity to create incredible machines, true architectures in motion.
 
The company La Machine is also a show out of the ordinary throughout the world: The Giant Spiders in Liverpool, Reims, Calais, Nantes and Yokohama, Long Ma- the Dragon Horse in Beijing and Ottawa in front of more than a million spectators.
 
 
The project is currently being financed through participatory financing on the platform. Kickstarter.com. The project needs your help to bring this fantasy world to life. 
 
 

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