by Meghna MehtaMar 26, 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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.