Jean-Yves BARRIER, Les Coqueplicots (2018). Hippodrome roundabout. Chambtray-Les-Tours (France)
France (Chambray-les-Tours)

© jean-yves Barrier

Photo : 2 3 4

In 2017 the Hippodrome roundabout in Chambray-Les-Tours, near the city of Tours (France), got a full makeover.
Jean-Yves Barrier, with the contribution of lighting designer Pierre Bideau, had created a first project for the roundabout (2) in 1989 : a set of illuminated columns. After several decades, renovation work proved necessary due to several elements : maintenance difficulties and heavy energy consumption – the expectations back then were quite different from today’s. It was thus necessary to find a new approach. At the request of the city of Chambray-les-Tours, the contracting authority, Jean-Yves Barrier came up with a fresh proposal : start from a clean slate and create a fully new piece for the roundabout. Capitalising on the initial frame and focusing on lighting, Jean-Yves Barrier sought to deliver a strong message, a spectacular welcoming sign at the city’s gates. The roundabout is located on the main artery going from south to north, near Tours, opening a new perspective.The new project named Les Coqueplicots is made of 552 elements. Each one is composed of a disc made of fluorescent red Altuglas, cut, folded, tilted, and affixed atop rods of various height, ranging from 3 to 4 meters, moving slightly with the wind. This work of art relies on geometrical forms and a main elementary color that create an intense and ever changing presence through its multiple components. It is as impressive by day as it is by night with its customised LED lighting. The roundabout is enclosed in a circular space entirely made of blue fescues and lavender, which brings unity to its surroundings. The quality of each element illustrates the attention to details that Jean-Yves Barrier infuses in each of his projects, across art, architecture, city planning and manufacturing. Always on the lookout for innovative technologies, Jean-Yves Barrier has used the latest ones for the project, from laser cutting to LED lighting and the manufacturing of a specific fluorescent and thick altuglas. In line with expectations, the project is efficient in terms of energy consumption and the lighting spending for the roundabout has been reduced by 7.

This project encompasses urban planning, landscaping, environmental art, urban design, and light installation, but above everything else it is about art in the public space, it is about public art (3). The way it can be appreciated on different levels by different audiences is what makes it so interesting.

From afar, going south, one sees a brightly colored line on the horizon, a luminous path in the landscape. Getting closer to the roundabout, the line becomes something else, Les Coqueplicots move like butterflies about to take off. The transformation brings dynamism and magic to the place. Beyond its visual qualities, the most important aspect of this work of art is its symbolic dimension. The red poppies illustrate an ecological tale. « Red poppies, says Jean-Yves Barrier, have progressively disappeared due to the usage of pesticides (4), but these wild flowers used to grow everywhere on the sides of the roads. In addition, fields of red poppies have been a long-standing source of inspiration for impressionists, painters of light, such as Claude Monet for example ».
The project makes thus a reference to both ecology and art history. French roundabouts include now a new creation. More than a masterpiece or a sculpture sitting on a roundabout, the Hippodrome roundabout in Chambray-Les-Tours has become a work of art in itself.

1) The title « Coqueplicots » is a play on words, a combination of coquelicots (red poppies) and pli (pleat) which is a recurring theme in Jean-Yves Barrier’s work. Starting with simple and minimalist geometrical forms, he has used pleats to create his own artistic and architectural language across a series of creations such as « bi’pli », « tôl’pli » etc...

2) At the time, the project was commissioned in the framework of a public French program, initiated in the 80’s and entitled « Safer cities, neighbourhoods without accident », its dual objective was to encourage drivers to slow down while creating new city gates.

3) Public art is defined by Hervé-Armand Béchy, in his book : Introduction à l’art public contemporain, Published by Art-Public, 2018.

4) The French non profit association Nous voulons des coquelicots (We want red poppies) was created in the summer of 2018, its purpose is to preserve the environment and stop the usage of pesticides by raising awareness of their irreversible consequences on life on earth. This world that is being erased is ours, and each color that dies, each light that disappears is a permanent suffering.

Back to contents