As part of the celebrations for the 10th edition of the ‘Festival des architectures vives’ in Montpelier, France, architects/ designers Mickaël Martin, Margaux Rodot and Benoît Tastet have created an installation titled ‘The Tenth Spring’.
The installation is inspired by Hanami, a Japanese traditional custom of admiring the ephemeral beauty of the cherry blossoms, the installation allows the spectator to plunge into a suspended moment. This timelessness evokes the imagery of petals gently detaching themselves one by one. Staging the springtime cherry blossoms invites passers-by to reflect on the intangibility of passing time, on the delicate balance between life and death, focusing on perpetual renewal.
The ‘Festival des architectures vives’ takes place on a yearly basis within the inner courtyards of selected town-houses and the installation celebrates the spring of cultural heritage. The courtyards resemble deeply anchored trees within the city’s historic centre, of which the displayed artworks would symbolize the ephemeral blossoming of its flowers.
‘The Tenth Spring’ is a living installation that takes place within the Griffy town-house courtyard. Throughout the day, viewers are exposed to the varying perceptions of the installation, as witnessed through the ever-changing reflections of the ‘petals’ on the surrounding historic windows. The foliage brightens towards the end of the day as the petals fall, renewing the experiences.
Staging this springtime scene involves layering discrete nets towards the sky, 10 meters high above the courtyard. Each day, 650 helium balloons are released to compose the ephemeral foliage. Variations in the volume of helium used to inflate, enables the balloons to descend throughout the entire day, reflecting the falling petals of the cherry tree. In order to renew the process across the the 6 days of the festival, approximately 4000 balloons and 7 cubic metres of helium are required.
Once the balloons fall to the ground, a sign that spring is advancing, brings joy to children. For adults, joy is found in laying on the ephemeral meadows whilst having a picnic or to simply enjoy the moment, capturing the essence of the Hanami.