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Le Havre Beach
from 27 May  to 23 September 


The beach cabins in Le Havre are determinative to the cityscape.
They historically represented the ultimate holiday experience for the working class. Much later they offered the affluent citizen summer entertainment.
Traditionally they have always been white and remained undecorated.
For the celebration of the 500th anniversary of the city, I proposed the plan to give them a colorful expression: stripes of 10 different colors and of  6 different width will be painted on the visible faces of the cabins.

I see it as a kind of choreography, a composition of the whole panorama, with all the cabins. A unity through diversity.
Such a plan can only work with the cooperation of the owners of the beach cabins.

I am happy and grateful that such a large group of the owners are contributing to this plan. But the individuals who preferred to leave their cottage white are also contributing to the whole. These white cabins behave like the necessary silence in music.

To determine the colour sequence in relation to the bars’ widths, I wished a cooperation with University of Le Havre,  a research team from Computing Laboratory of Information Processing and Systems (LITIS) and members of a FabLab ("La Faironnerie") which works on the link between science and art.
They have come up with a fantastic idea: the team uses King Francis I’s decree that dictated the foundation of Le Havre as a starting point to generate code; this code then determines the colours and the width of the bars for every single beach cabins according to rules we have defined together.

Students of technical painting schools in Le Havre (Lycée Schuman-Perret, CFA Baie de Seine), the integration workshop AHAPS (Association Havraise Action Promotion Sociale), the painters from the technical services of the city council, and a local painting company called “Franck” are involved in the implementation of the design. In addition, several citizens of Le Havre, contribute one way or another, and are showing their sympathy for the plan.
This put the whole as much as possible in cooperation with the local residents. All in all, a stimulating experience.

With the contribution of Elodie Boyer (Éditions Non Standard) and Pierre-Yves Cachard (Université Le Havre Normandie)​

Practical info


Couleurs sur la plage

Karel Martens

Le Havre Beach
27 May  / 23 September 

Le Havre Beach
Boulevard Albert 1er 76600 Le Havre

  • Visitors with hearing impairment
  • Visitors with mental disabilities



Free access

Discovery tour

Étape 19 du Blue Tour
Étape 14 du Green Tour



How to get here
- Tram: lines A and B La Plage Stop
- Bus: line 1 La Plage Stop
  • Bar

Sustainable development

Colors on the beach is a work by the Dutch graphic designer Karel Martens in collaboration with Le Havre inhabitants and organizations. Indeed, hundreds of beach cabines owners have accepted to contribute to the project. Educational structures are also involved. Le Havre University created the algorythm that determines the lenghts and colors of the stripes, while CFA Baie de Seine and Schuman-Perret highschool painted many cabines. Last but not least, AHAPS inclusion sheme took part with a dozen of trainees in the painting of the cabines, which are the unexpected medium for this project in between science and art.
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