Frank Gehry designs Luma Tower in France to evoke Van Gogh’s Starry Night

American architect Frank Gehry's Luma Tower, created to serve as the Arts Resource Centre in Arles, France, is inspired from the famous painter’s love for the French town.

by Meghna Mehta Published on : Mar 14, 2020

The famous Dutch post-impressionist painter Vincent Van Gogh’s brief residency from 1888 to 1889 in Arles was when the artist was known to be at his most inspired. Amid its rugged limestone mountains, he created over 300 paintings and drawings that came to define his otherworldly vision. In 2013, Maja Hoffmann, an avid Swiss art collector, art patron, documentary filmmaker, impresario and entrepreneur, launched Luma Arles to plan, develop, and manage the Parc des Ateliers, an expansive former industrial site located in Arles, France.

Luma tower uses 11,000 blocks of stainless steel and 5,000 sqm of façade composed of 300 metal panels welded together | Luma Towers | Frank Gehry | STIRworld
The Luma tower uses 11,000 blocks of stainless steel and 5,000 sqm of façade composed of 300 metal panels welded together Image Credit: Courtesy of Atelier Vincent Hecht

The American post-modern architect Frank Gehry was commissioned over a hundred years later to create the centrepiece of this new development, Arts Resource Centre. “Maja taught me about the region,” Gehry said at the press conference. “We talked about trying to evoke Van Gogh’s Starry Night.”

The new Luma Tower is adjacent to UNESCO World Heritage sites  | Luma Towers | Frank Gehry | STIRworld
The new Luma Tower is adjacent to UNESCO World Heritage sites Image Credit: Courtesy of Atelier Vincent Hecht

The Canada-born architect based in USA, Gehry is known for his deconstructivist designs, bold ideas and carefree attitude. His buildings including the older Walt Disney Concert Hall, the Guggenheim Bilbao, the recent Louis Vuitton Paris store and the upcoming Guggenheim in Abu Dhabi. He is known for adapting curved and complex forms and never-seen designs. The Pritzker laureate has been widely acclaimed and critiqued, and found himself the centre of many theoretical discussions for his revolutionary work.

Canada-born architect Frank Gehry is known for adapting twisted forms and curvilinear structures in his buildings | Luma Towers | Frank Gehry | STIRworld
Canada-born architect Frank Gehry is known for adapting twisted forms and curvilinear structures in his buildings Image Credit: Courtesy of Atelier Vincent Hecht

Luma Arles is a cultural centre dedicated to providing artists with opportunities to experiment with the production and presentation of new work in close collaboration with other artists, curators, scientists, innovators and audiences. The Luma foundation has also overseen the transformation of the Parc des Ateliers, a 17-acre former industrial site in Arles situated adjacent to the city’s celebrated UNESCO World Heritage sites.

  • Luma is a cultural centre dedicated to providing artists with new opportunities | Luma Towers | Frank Gehry | STIRworld
    Luma is a cultural centre dedicated to providing artists with new opportunities Image Credit: Courtesy of Atelier Vincent Hecht
  • Luma tower will function as a resource centre and house research facilities, workshop and seminar rooms and artist studios | Luma Towers | Frank Gehry | STIRworld
    Luma tower will function as a resource centre and house research facilities, workshop and seminar rooms and artist studios Image Credit: Courtesy of Atelier Vincent Hecht

Frank Gehry's mountain-shaped tower will have a 5,000-square-metre facade composed of 300 metal panels welded together, and made of 11,000 blocks of stainless steel. It is nearing completion within a 16 acre (64,749 sqm) site in the southern French town. The Luma tower will function as a resource centre as well as house a wide range of programs including research facilities, workshop and seminar rooms and artist studios. Reaching its 56-metre height, the tower will be one of the six industrial buildings undergoing rehabilitation for Luma Arles at a site which was formerly occupied by railroad workshops built in the mid-19th Century. At the tower's base will be a large glass atrium open to the general public.

In the entire Campus of the Luma Arles, six industrial buildings have been renovated by New York-based Selldorf Architects, and a public park has been designed by Belgian landscape architect Bas Smets | Luma Towers | Frank Gehry | STIRworld
In the entire Campus of the Luma Arles, six industrial buildings have been renovated by New York-based Selldorf Architects, and a public park has been designed by Belgian landscape architect Bas Smets Image Credit: Courtesy of Atelier Vincent Hecht

Within the campus, the six industrial buildings have been renovated by renowned architects, including New York-based Selldorf Architects, and a public park has been designed by Belgian landscape architect Bas Smets. The overall campus is privately funded by Maja Hoffmann's Luma Foundation, expected to cost around $175M, and scheduled to open by 2021.

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About Author

Meghna Mehta

Meghna Mehta

An architect by education and a journalist by passion, Mehta pursued a crossroad between her two interests. Having completed an M.Arch from CEPT University in Ahmedabad, she has worked in the field of architectural journalism for over 5 years. Besides content generation for STIR, she continues to teach in architectural schools in Mumbai.

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