The Slate Garden

On the patio of the Main Building, a new garden has been unveiled. Inspired by physicists themselves, the garden uses a clever combination of flower arrangements and slate slabs to create the shape of the CMS particle tracker.


Scribbling, crossing out, and writing over it again. In an age of digital "tablets", scientists have remained faithful to the traditional blackboard... the inspiration for the Slate Garden.

Completed just a few days ago on the Main Building patio (Building 500), the garden was designed by landscape architect Laurent Essig – who also created the InGRID installation outside Building 33 – and is the perfect combination of organic and mineral materials. Composed of 100 pieces of slate laid across three concentric circles, the work recalls the elegant lines of the CMS particle tracker. The project was completed thanks to the collaboration of a number of CERN technical services, in particular the Green Spaces Service, the Transport Service, the Electrical Service and the Central Store.

"Even now, physicists continue to work and exchange ideas on blackboards; the boards always end up covered in formulas, equations and other mathematical symbols," says Laurent Essig. "While creating this garden, I was inspired by what was taking place at CERN. The CMS particle tracker, for example, is extremely interesting from a purely aesthetic point of view."

Lined with daffodils, tulips and lilies, the Slate Garden will be in bloom all year round. The garden is lit up after dusk and can be enjoyed, day or night, from every angle – from the main hall, the restaurant, or the first-floor concourse.


The Slate Garden at dusk.

by Alexandre Pelletier and Anaïs Schaeffer