Home Magazine Frank Gehry's new mirrored tower in Arles!

The new contemporary art center was financed by collector Maja Hoffmann, heir of the pharmaceutical giant Hoffmann-La Roche, founder and president of the foundation. Inserted inside the Parc des Ateliers - a redevelopment project of 150 million euro - the huge mirrored tower designed by Frank Gehry will be the spearhead of the Arts Resource Center project.

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With fifty-six meters high and fifteen thousand square meters of surface, eleven thousand metal plates (each unique and numerated), LUMA Tower will host research facilities, artists' studios, workshops, presentation rooms, an archive and a cafeteria, and is becoming a new distinctive feature of the Arles skyline, together with the numerous towers and jagged peaks of the Alpilles. The structure is built on a former railway depot, abandoned since 1986, and will be flanked by five post-industrial buildings recovered and converted by the New York studio of Annabelle Selldorf, and by a public park designed by the Belgian landscape architect Bas Smets. All the exterior will be designed by the landscape architect Bas Smets.



        From left to right: The Luma Arles Tower projected by Frank Gehry.


The history of this construction site started in 2013 when Hoffmann purchased the area with the disused railway sheds of the Parc des Ateliers, that since 1971 hosted Les Rencontres de la Photographie and a park of five industrial buildings to be converted. According to Hoffmann, this was the predestined area for the Luma Foundation, a place engaged in art and in the promotion of projects related to environmental and humanitarian themes. At that point, Hoffman turns to Frank Gehry, the contemporary architect who more than any other, with the marvellous Guggenheim in Bilbao, has linked his name to the concept of urban transformation. Hoffman entrusts the architect with the masterplan of the area, destined to become a hub of culture and headquarters of Luma itself.

The outcome is a spectacular building, which apparently seems to be shattered. In fact, the eye is lost in search of a centre that doesn't exist. It is the same centre that didn't exist in Van Gogh's study of Alpilles' geological formations, of which this project is clearly debtor. Indeed, it is clear that the mountain painted by Vincent Van Gogh in 1888 -rises from the Rhone valley north-east of Arles - has played a key role both in the development and building design. Above a circular glass atrium (a reference to the Roman amphitheatre of the city), eleven thousand aluminium plates recall the jagged peaks of the mountains by covering the concrete and steel core of the structure, reflecting the light and causing the building to change in the day.

Cover image: The Luma Arles Tower projected by Frank Gehry.

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