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Clouds over Miami

Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec Talk About Their New Project

What role does nature play in an urban landscape? This was the question behind the poetic exhibition ‘Rêveries Urbaines’ by French designers Ronan und Erwan Bouroullec. Now they are presenting ‘Nuages Promenade’, a project for public spaces that may provide a few answers.

‘Nuage Promenade’ is a 100-metre-long passage in the Paseo Ponti at the heart of Miami’s Design District. A pergola covered in greenery floats three metres high above ponds and planters, offering shade, shelter and seating to its visitors – in a charming setting.

Miami is a city of tropical vegetation, in which plants and trees take on a highly expressive dimension, while natural elements – sun, wind and rain – also leave their mark. ‘Nuage Promenade’ interacts with them all. There is a form of organic thinking behind the installation, which lacks straight lines or vertical grids – the focus is on instinctive yet repetitive construction.

Nuage itself is a model we developed early in our career and have used for a few specific occasions and projects. In product design, there is an understandable fascination with the repetition of a single piece using industrial techniques. But there can be a different take on this logic: that of the uniform tile, the brick – the repetition of a part whose permanent aim is a uniform grid.

When assembled, Nuage always creates different shapes despite repetition of the very same element. The structure naturally grows in different directions, with a consistent pattern that connects the whole, but in a distinctive configuration. This is something we often observe in nature as well – all trees are somehow the same and yet different.

‘Nuage Promenade’ is not intended to drive foot traffic in one direction or another, but to encourage meanderings and pauses along the way. The structure naturally creates colourful shade, alluring sounds and cool spots due to the presence of ponds and plants. Everything is about transparency and lightness. The main structure floats three metres above the ground, so that the landscape remains visually open. The cloud formations also consist primarily of holes and empty zones instead of volume and mass, allowing a diffusion of light and air. The result is an ever changing atmosphere, influenced by the path of the sun throughout the day.

Ponds, plants and benches are responsive to all of these slight variations. In a few years, when the interaction between the plants and manmade clouds has intensified, we can imagine that the atmosphere will be even more pronounced. The chosen materials will age nicely and gradually acquire a natural patina.


Publication date: 25.1.2018
Author: Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec
Images: Studio Bouroullec, Paul Tahon