The Machines

• Open International de Nantes  • 04 - 10 Sep 2017 • France •  










Les Machines de l’île, situated on the "L'Ile de Nantes", are a totally unprecedented artistic project.

The Ile de Nantes is a huge area undergoing redevelopment located in the heart of the city along the banks of the Loire River. The 337-hectare Ile de Nantes project is one of the largest urban projects in Europe. Nantes Métropole wanted to give a new vocation to the site of the former shipyards while still respecting its past.

Born from the imaginations of François Delarozière and Pierre Orefice, the Machines of the Island are at the crossroads of Jules Verne’s "invented worlds", the mechanical universe of Leonardo da Vinci, and of Nantes’ industrial history, on the exceptional site of the former shipyards.

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.

Being able to watch the workshop of the company La Machine in activity enhances this unprecedented tour / performance that is both entertaining and educational.

The Grand Éléphant

When this majestic animal goes out for a walk, it is like architecture in motion leaving a steel cathedral. 50 passengers can embark on an amazing journey.

Once aboard, you will see the moving gears that power the legs. A machinist will tell you stories about the elephant and have it blast its trunk for your pleasure.

Being on the back of the Grand Éléphant is like being on the 4th floor of a travelling house, with a breathtaking view of the former shipyards.

The Galerie des Machines

The Galerie is a living space showcasing a veritable bestiary of machines. The machines built in the workshops of theatre company La Machine, are tested in this lab.

During your visit, the machinists will explain the history and workings of these strange creatures and breathe life into the imaginary world of the Arbre aux Hérons, major project of Les Machines de l’île.

A mechanical Spider joined the bestiary of the Heron Tree at the heart of the Galerie des Machines. Sleeping in its nest, it is awakened by the machinists
who seat four people on its abdomen. It climbs up along its threads, and moves above the public.

High up in the rafters of the Galerie des Machines, you can see a heron with an 8 meter-long wingspan soaring gracefully. Then it’s Giant Ant’s turn to make his entrance. Here, real plants grow next to mechanical ones, creating a canopy for the animals… and, you might be invited to climb in and control one of them!

The European Flight Test Centre This wind tunnel flight simulator used to test all the amazing flying machines is unique in the world. A machinist takes the control of a “flying flea”, put on its seat belt, helmet and goggles, and flies at speeds of more than 100 km/h.

The Carrousel des Mondes Marins

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.

Adults and children are plunged into the same imaginary universe of this incredible mechanical aquarium, which
you can discover at your own pace.

This authentic 360° theatre is also an incredible sculpture dedicated to the sea. Visitors watch as strange and disturbing marine creatures revolve in a huge structure built on three levels. You will discover the sea like never before, from seabeds to sea surface.

This giant carousel, almost 25 m (82 ft.) high and 22 m (72 ft.) in diameter, is a reinvention of fairground art. Three carousels are stacked in concrete lacework, crowned by a Big Top that is itself adorned with pediments, and guarded by 16 fishermen from all the world’s oceans.

In the seabeds, discover the Giant Crab, the Reverse Propulsion Squid, the exploring Machine that dives deep into the machine room, or the Bathyscaphe that climbs up the central mast… and the latest arrival: the Box Fish. A total of 14 elements fixed onto a rotating plateau.

In the abyss, on the second level, 6 elements hang 5 metres above the seabeds: the Deep-Sea Lanternfish, the Manta Ray or the Pirate fish… Only visitors over 1m35 (4.5 ft.) are accepted aboard this level.
On the sea surface, on the third level, a rotating plateau, protected by a Big Top, sweeps away boats, marine harnesses and other flying Fish, a storm Boat, Nutshells and Jellyfish, in a raging whirlpool of 24 big mechanical waves.

The Herons Tree

The idea for The Herons Tree (Arbre aux Hérons) came about in 2002, and it has since become the centrepiece of the Machines de l’île’s project for the island of Nantes. It is scheduled to open in 2021.

Given the project’s magnitude and grandeur, the pressure was on the Machines de l’île de Nantes to make headway on its feasibility right from the very
first designs.

Since the elements of the Mondes Marins (Marine Worlds) that lived in the Galerie des Machines for 4 years are now part of the Carrousel, and that the project for the Tree is currently at the heart of the Galerie, its creators have decided to take stock of this work-in-progress.

Photo Franck Tombs

Photo Jean-Dominique Billaud

Photo Jean-Dominique Billaud

Photo Jean-Dominique Billaud


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