Et pluie le soleil
Situated in the countryside, in the place known as Chassignol, near the town of Thiers, the Maison Arc-en-Ciel ("Rainbow Home") is home to fifty children from highly disadvantaged backgrounds, all between the ages of four and fifteen. The institution serves an educational function: to provide "security and well-being" for children during a difficult time in their life. The home sometimes conveyed a negative image of enclosure to the outside, due to the dismal outer walls. A mixed feeling of disquiet and pity regarding this institution consequently prevailed at times, when in fact the place itself was welcoming, warm and open to life outside. When they were made aware of this, the staff of this children's home realized that collective action was needed to restore the true social function of the place in everyone's eyes. The patrons felt that the wall surrounding the home, which marked a transition between the inside and the outside, should reveal the inherent beauty of its mission rather than trigger rejection. Given the lack of balance between the architectural styles, it was also necessary to harmonize the whole, to reflect a sense of equilibrium and peace. The Maison Arc-en-Ciel had to have its dimensions of light and colour restored, literally, so that in concrete terms it would reflect its name.
Active collaboration was established between the various stakeholders in the project to decide on symbolically meaningful colours to adopt for the institution's different buildings: blues and greens to evoke the nature reserve next to the institution; reds and browns to signify its structuring function and the aim of psychological reconstruction; and yellows for their warmth and energetic potential. All the shades of the spectrum were represented. The children were invited to participate in this creation: a metaphor of the internal transformation needed for a human being to reconstruct him- or herself. The transformation of the facades also served to connect a private place, a public place and the surrounding space.
The mediator proposed Cécile Bart, whose creation resonated with the patrons' aspirations. She had been working since the mid-1980s on the architectural arrangement of "paintings/screens", that is, large chromatic surfaces that structure, dynamize and coordinate space. Each work became a medium for vision to grasp the surrounding space.