“Les Machines de l’île” (The Island’s Machines) Project – Nantes, France

    Les Machines de l’île

    “While Nantes is a pleasant city, with white and grey stone buildings flanking the mouth of the Loire River, it doesn’t have the spectacular architecture, major historical significance or three-star restaurants of some of its French counterparts. So the city decided to create its own unique attraction: Les Machines de L’Île .

    The Grand Éléphant makes the connection between the Carrousel des Mondes Marins and the Warehouses where the workshop and the Galerie des Machines, centre of the artistic proposal of the Machines de l’île, are located.

    “Les Machines de l’île” is a totally unprecedented artistic project. Born from the François Delarozière and Pierre Orefice’s imagination, it is at crossroads of Jules Verne’s “invented worlds”, of the mechanical universe of Leonardo da Vinci, and of Nantes’ industrial history, on the exceptional site of the former shipyards.

    Some strange machines came to populate the Île de Nantes. After the Grand Éléphant, this is now the turn of a Manta Ray, a Sea Snake and of all kinds of incredible boats to take possession of the banks of the Loire River. These uncommon machines were born from the hands of the constructors of the company La Machine and came to life in between those of Les Machines de l’île, in the public eye. Their backwards and forwards between the building workshop and the Galerie give impetus to the movement at the heart of the former Dubigeon naves. They convey a mysterious reality to this island just like the time when vessels were launched there for all the trips of the world.
    Demonstrating the creative process
    The two designers also chose to put the entire creative process on display, from the very first sketches drawn by François Delarozière. The materials are in their natural state, and the mechanisms are all visible. The building process can be seen for all the sculptures, whether steel or wood.

    A heron with a 8-metre (26-foot) wingspan, with passengers in tow, flies over the large-scale model of the Arbre aux Hérons planted in the middle of the Galerie. Real plants grow next to mechanical ones, and if you are lucky you might be asked to control the treetop animals.

    Being able to watch the workshop of the company La Machine in activity enhances this unprecedented tour / performance that is both entertaining and educational.
    A story told by the machinists : the machinists who are working to place the Machines in motion and bring them to life explain how the mechanisms work and how they were developed. During the tour / performance the Machines periodically awaken, suddenly turning into animals or monsters.

    The universe of the Machines can be enjoyed by all generations and is perfect for family and group outings.

    Located on the banks of the Loire river, across from the Musée Jules Verne, the Carrousel des Mondes Marins seems to have been born in the belly of Île de Nantes, the city’s most maritime spot. It is an incredible mechanical aquarium that the visitors discover at their own pace.

    Le Carrousel des Mondes Marins -  © Jean-Dominique Billaud Le Carrousel des Mondes Marins et le Grand Eléphant - © Jean-Dominique Billaud

    There’s no separation between the adult world and the world of children. Parents are not only accompanying, they are also concerned with the awakening of their children, and they share their trip and discover behind the animal the machine in motion.


    The Parc des Chantiers

    Wrapped around the branches of the Loire, the Île de Nantes has been for more than 10 years a changing territory as part of a major scale rehabilitation project.

    As you cross the Loire River, you enter a territory dedicated to cultural industry: The area of creation of which the shipyards park constitutes the largest public space. It brings together, over, 13 hectares, heritage (former shipbuilding yards), contemporary architecture and works of art (Estuaire Nantes <> Saint-Nazaire, Les Machines de l’île…).


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