Walking the Golden Mile / by Peter Wilder

A Visit to Christo’s and Jeanne-Claude’s Floating Piers in Italy

Stretched out in the bright Sulzano sunlight, Christo’s golden mile leads from the lake shore to the island of San Paolo. An installation, conceived by Christo and Jeanne-Claude in 1970, provides the small community around Lake Iseo with a unique journey to the tiny island and the journey doesn’t stop at the lake edge, but continues through the streets of Sulzano and Peschiera Maraglio.

People experience the installation in different ways. Some marvel at the logistics of the 3km walkway made up of 220,000 polyethylene cubes others at the stark contract between the orange fabric and the blue skies.

“Those who experienced The Floating Piers felt like they were walking on water – or perhaps the back of a whale,” said Christo. “The light and water transformed the bright yellow fabric to shades of red and gold throughout the sixteen days.”

Despite the 7km walk to get to the site and the 5 hour wait in queues I was undeterred to experience the walk for myself. Though people are encouraged to keep walking I managed to find a moment to sit and contemplate the view.

We are often deterred from the use of bright colours in the landscape, but examples such as this and schemes like the Superkilen project in Copenhagen  prove to us that bright colours are something that people are drawn to. This has given us the confidence to integrate bright colours into a new urban design we are developing on the Creekside in Deptford. Colours which reflect the red brick of old warehouses and the green of the nature taking over derelict buildings and vibrant pink representing performance arts at the Laban Dance Centre will be expressed in a variety of materials in the paving and the building facades. We should sometimes remember that landscape is not just a technical exercise but also a piece of art, able to be experienced in different ways by those who use it.

By Kaja Jedrzejczyk