Dezeen Magazine

A birdseye view of a clock-shaped installation

Fabien Roy creates clock-shaped wooden installation to mark Tour de France

Swiss designer Fabien Roy has created a temporary circular installation made from spruce wood in the middle of the Swiss countryside for the cycling race Tour de France.

Called Ephemeral Ring due to the temporary nature of the installation, the structure is located in the Vallée de Joux valley and was commissioned by the non-profit organisation Vallée de Joux Tourisme to mark the Tour de France.

Ephemeral Ring on grass next to a lake
Ephemeral Ring was designed to look like a clock

"The concept aims to promote the cultural, natural and industrial heritage of the region in Switzerland – also known as the Watch Valley – during the passage of the Tour de France through the Valley," Roy told Dezeen.

"As part of the Tour de France cycling race in the Joux Valley, the tourist office wanted to mark the event by setting up an ephemeral installation visible from the sky."

Cyclists will ride within 20 metres of the installation on Saturday 9 July as part of the 3,328 kilometre-long race.

Sprude slats make up Ephemeral Ring
It is made of locally sourced spruce wood

Roy designed Ephemeral Ring, which is four metres tall and 50 metres in diameter, to look like a clock face when viewed from above – referencing the watchmaking heritage of the area.

People watching the Tour de France on television will be able to see the structure from this birdseye perspective, thanks to helicopters filming the cycling race from the skies.

Fabien Roy's wooden installation
Members of the public can walk through the installation

"The Vallée de Joux is known worldwide as the home of the most famous Swiss watch brands including Breguet, Blancpain, Jaeger-LeCoultre and Dubois Dépraz," Roy explained.

"The visual of the architecture from the sky had to convey a direct and unambiguous message knowing that it would only be visible for a few seconds on television," he continued.

The picturesque area is also home to the watch brand Audemars Piguet, which has a dedicated watchmaking museum here based in a spiral-shaped building that was designed by architecture studio BIG.

A wooden installation in the countryside
Roy hoped the installation would marry watchmaking with forestry

Roy sourced the wood for his installation just two kilometres away in the surrounding forest.

"The construction is made of 20 cubic meters of wood – five kilometres of wooden sticks," he said.

Each 50 by 60-millimetre spruce wooden slat was combined on-site into the ring by a carpentry company in the valley with the help of lumberjacks. Two lines of wood in the middle of the installation form the watch face.

"The idea was to associate the watchmaking universe with the world of forestry, which represents the other pole of activity in the valley," explained Roy.

Roy wanted to create a structure that could easily be repurposed to avoid wasting material. All of the wooden slats and screws will be reused by a local carpentry company for the construction of wooden cladding facades and ventilated roof substructures after Ephermeral Ring has been dismantled.

"In my opinion, such an ephemeral installation only makes sense if it does not generate waste," the designer said. "Today we can no longer afford to waste large quantities of materials to satisfy ephemeral events."

An aerial view of Ephemeral Ring
Cyclists will ride past the installation during the Tour de France

Members of the public will be able to walk through the installation on a path that leads to an exhibition of works by local illustrator Jaques Vallotton.

Other temporary installations recently featured on Dezeen include artist James Turrell's immersive Skyspace installation and Italian architect Stefano Boeri's Floating Forest which was constructed for Milan design week.

The photography is courtesy Fabien Roy.