Dezeen Magazine

Parley for the Oceans to recycle Christo and Jeanne-Claude's L'Arc de Triomphe Wrapped

L'Arc de Triomphe Wrapped, artists Christo and Jeanne-Claude's last work, is being recycled by Parley for the Oceans, which will turn it into tents and sun shades for use during the 2024 Olympics and other events in Paris.

In 2021, L'Arc de Triomphe Wrapped saw the monument on Paris's Champs-Élysées shrouded in 25,000 square metres of silvery fabric tied in place with 7,000 metres of red rope.

Both fabric and rope were made of woven polypropylene, a type of thermoplastic, and intended to be recycled — a vision that is now being realised by the Christo and Jeanne-Claude Foundation in collaboration with environmental organisation Parley for the Oceans.

Christo and Jeanne-Claude's L'Arc de Triomphe Wrapped
Parley is recycling Christo and Jeanne-Claude's L'Arc de Triomphe Wrapped

The organisation has already processed the materials and is now in the design and production phase.

Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo has confirmed the tents and shade structures created will be used in major events including the Olympic and Paralympic Games, which the city is hosting next year.

"A constant commitment of Christo and Jeanne-Claude was to reuse, upcycle and recycle all materials used in their projects," said L'Arc de Triomphe Wrapped project director Vladimir Yavachev.

Photo of three sets of arms handling red ropes on a metal table
This includes the red ropes used to hold the installation together

"I can think of nothing more fitting than recycling this artwork for future use in Paris, a city so influential on the lives and work of Christo and Jeanne-Claude," he added.

Parley for the Oceans founder and CEO Cyrill Gutsch said it was meaningful to be giving a second life to an installation that he had seen as "a flag of rebellion" and "an encouragement that seemingly impossible ideas can become a reality".

"The ropes, the fabric of the artwork are testament of the true superpower we humans possess: imagination," said Gutsch.

Photo of small, lentil-like blue pellets in a silver funnel
The fabric from the installation has also been through the recycling process

"We will create tent structures that are designed to protect human life against dangerous heat waves," he added. "And to supercharge our hearts and our minds for the epic challenge ahead of us."

"I know it for sure, together we can create a new economy where harmful, toxic and exploitative business practices are a relic of the past."

The wood and steel from the substructure of L'Arc de Triomphe Wrapped have already been reused by the organisation Les Charpentiers de Paris and the companies ArcelorMittal and Derichebourg Environnement.

It is two years since the Christo and Jeanne-Claude Foundation unveiled L'Arc de Triomphe Wrapped, a posthumous work for both artists.

Christo passed away in 2020 and Jeanne-Claude in 2009, but the pair had conceptualised the project together in 1961. The artists and their foundation consider all of their public projects and indoor installations as collaborative works by both Christo and Jeanne-Claude.

L'Arc de Triomphe Wrapped had been scheduled to go ahead in 2020, but was postponed to 2021 after the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic.

Photo of a two workers in high-vis gear hanging on the outside of the Christo and Jeanne-Claude's L'Arc de Triomphe Wrapped installation, showing the red ropes and silvery fabric up close
Both ropes and fabric were made of recyclable polypropylene

After Christo's death, the project was finalised by his team along with the Centre des Monuments Nationaux, Centre Pompidou and the City of Paris.

Christo and Jeanne-Claude are most well-known for "wrapping" famous buildings and landscapes in their massive-scale artworks.

While some critics have attacked the waste or environmental interference of their projects, the artists' foundation maintains that they recycled most materials and left sites in the state they found them in, or better.