Public commission "Le sixième continent" by Gilles Clément - Etang du Cam - Historique de la Grande Guerre à Péronne: une approche paysagère et sensible, dans le cadre du Centenaire de la Grande Guerre. Official opening on 2 July 2014.

Invited by the General Council of the Somme to realize a work in the framework of the commemorations of the Great War and the public commission with the support of the Ministry of Culture and Communication, DRAC Picardie, Gilles Clément has chosen, by this creation, of "to ward off pain".

More than a commemorative approach, The sixth continent illustrates one aspect of the First World War: the internationality of the conflict. War is seen as a failure of civilization with far-reaching consequences for society, but also for the landscape and the environment. Gilles Clément proposes here a memorial gesture, within a territory whose landscape marked by war is a place of recollection for all the countries involved in this conflict. The sixth continent is also part of the landscape of the Somme Valley, whose meanders shelter marshes, canals and patches of cultivated or wild land.

A work in the making, to be discovered in July 2014

Gilles Clément, in collaboration with landscape engineer Guillaume Morlans, designed an island made up of five reliefs and a second, smaller, The sixth continent, emerging from the previously derelict banks of Cam Pond. Planted with species from five continents able to evolve on this temperate biome, the first island is accessible by a bridge from the banks. On The sixth continent, virgin of any plantation and only accessible by boat, visitors will be invited to plant a shrub, a bulb, a perennial, native to their country.

A garden from the global brewing will be created, symbol of peace and life for present and future generations. It will be deployed over several years and will reach maturity in 2018. Along the lines of the Planetary Garden, Gilles Clément thus invites environmental and social reflection in the context of the commemorations of the Great War. He proposes with this garden a collaborative approach of men to each other, men to nature, thus outlining an alternative to the risk of war.

On July 2, 2014, The sixth continent is inaugurated in the presence of UNESCO Ambassadors who will symbolically plant a plant of their country. A meeting-debate accompanies this launch.

A garden in dialogue with the architecture of Henri Ciriani

If it is a garden of modest size (right of way of the project 2 300 m², surface of the archipelago 300 m², surface of the sixth continent 80 mmm²), its symbolic force takes its full meaning in this context and echoes the Historial of the Great War. Indeed, the positioning of the garden completely reveals the neo-modernist architecture of the building designed by Henri Ciriani. As a museum of history housing a particularly tragic fragment of the French and international collective past, the Historial de la Grande Guerre de Péronne is also a contemporary architecture firmly inscribed in the architectural heritage. Anchored in the ruins of a castle of the late XIIth century, built on the edge of a pond, this place was, according to its author, a "architectural walk", a slow immersion in memory and architecture, a symbolic journey from war to peace. With the creation of Gilles Clément, this architectural experience is extended and enriched by a landscape dimension that, by reflecting it, opens it on the city of Péronne and the surrounding landscape.

Gilles Clément

Horticultural engineer, landscaper, writer, gardener, Gilles Clément was a teacher at the École nationale supérieure du Paysage de Versailles (ENSP). Apart from his work as creator of parks, gardens, public and private spaces, he pursues theoretical and practical work from three axes of research: The Moving Garden, The Planetary Garden, The Third Landscape. Gilles Clément works with landscape agencies such as Coloco or independent landscape professionals such as Guillaume Morlans, landscape engineer and founder of the EKSIS agency, who intervened alongside him to The sixth continent.

Practical information

The site is located on the banks of the Cam pond - 80200 Péronne - free access. Historial de la Grande Guerre de Péronne: tel.: 03 22 83 14 18.