Luma Arles

Story in brief

In brief

This 10-part virtual story is an introduction to the new landmark building designed by LA-based architect Frank Gehry for the LUMA Foundation located in Arles, in the South of France. Gehry’s spectacular tower is the centrepiece of a vast cultural campus, housing exhibitions, events, residencies, as well as the foundation’s offices. What used to be an abandoned industrial railway yard until 2004, is now transformed into beautiful landscaped gardens, where Gehry’s building rises above a ’plinth’, a new city centre off Avenue Victor Hugo.

The audacious architectural concept plays with a range of formal references, such as the Roman Amphitheatre in the old town, as well as the land formations of the mountain region. This virtual story looks at these ideas and how they have been synthesised into an ambitious design concept, showing how boundaries between the exterior and the interior have been blurred. 

Gehry’s much debated architectural approach, enabled by digital technology in design, finds its ultimate expression in the LUMA building. The fractured exterior of the tower, inspired by the paintings of Vincent van Gogh, creates a continuous play with light effects. Gehry’s interest in the expressive power of materials is evident in the highly original formal system, conjured with individual steel modules. 

Designed for maximum flexibility, the interior spaces will enable a wide range of artistic activities and interventions. Artworks by contemporary artists include a double-spiral slide by Carsten Höller, spanning over three floors in the central atrium hall, and a mirror installation by Olafur Eliasson.

The LUMA Foundation in Arles was founded by Maja Hoffmann, a patron of contemporary arts and architecture, and offers an ambitious program created with international curators, artists and researchers. The LUMA Foundation has changed the cultural dynamics in Arles and the surrounding region. As a symbol for this renewal, Gehry’s tower looks towards the future, while deconstructing traditional ideas about architecture.

Marianna Wahlsten

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