Christo and the late Jeanne Claude’s “Floating Piers” is nearing completion, as evidenced in photos released of the final construction stages. Spanning a portion of the 24-square-mile-area of Lake Iseo in northern Italy at the base of the Italian Alps, the project will allow visitors to essentially walk on water for 16 days this summer, starting on June 18 and ending on July 3. The project is the first in Italy in 40 years for the artist couple.
Once complete, visitors can walk from the lakeside town of Sulzano to the Monte Isola town of Peschiera Maraglio and on to the small island of San Paolo, which will be encircled by the fabric walkway. The walkways and the fabric extend into the streets of the major towns as well. In all, the project delivers about 3 kilometers (1.8 miles) of interconnected walkways that tie together the towns and the lake in between.
The modular floating dock system will be comprised of 220,000 high-density, polyethylene cubes, which were engineered at a factory in Fondotoce, Italy, a couple of hours drive away. They were manufactured over the course of eight months before being delivered to the project’s headquarters—a peninsula in Montecolino, near the project site—for storage. There, construction workers have been preparing the 30 segments, each 100 meters by 16 meters, and then place them atop Lake Iseo. The floating components will be about 50 centimeters (20 inches) above water’s surface.
To ensure that the piers will stay in place for the two-week-long engagement, concrete anchors will be installed along the lakebed, about 90 meters below the water’s surface, by commercial divers from France. Once under water, the divers will connect a rope “made of ultra-high-molecular-weight polyethylene, which is covered with a protective, polyester layer that boasts a breaking load of 20 metric tons," according to Christo and Jeanne Claude’s site. The first floating areas to be finished will include the circumference of San Paolo island.
From there a protective layer of felt will be installed—which will go between the bright, yellow fabric and the surface of the piers' cubes—transported by helicopter to the workers from Montecolino. This phase will be completed in stages, and will be met with other, bare segments that will follow the same treatment.
The finishing touches will include 100,000 square meters of bright, yellow fabric—a signature of the artistic duo that made them famous—wrapping both the undulating walkways and extending into the streets of the towns. Produced by textile manufacturer Setex, in Greven, Germany, the design team went through several phases before settling on the exact color and amount of fabric to meet Christo’s standards.
While Jeanne Claude died in 2009 at 74 from a brain aneurysm that occurred during a fall, the works by Christo are credited to both of them. ( This project was initiated in 1994.) Prior to her passing, the duo's large-scale installations had been only credited to Christo, despite their roughly 50-year partnership.