Frank Gehry’s aluminium Luma Arles tower glitters in South France

New photos show an undulating, metallic form standing in Arles, Southern France. Solidly taking shape amongst the city landscape, the building is still in the throes of construction. Designed by architecture titan and Pritzker Prize winner Frank Gehry, the building will be part of the Luma Arles complex, an art centre created by collector Maja Hoffmann. The facade, clad in reflective glass boxes and shining aluminium panels, sets out to evoke the rock formations found on the outskirts of the city.

Luma Arles tower
[Image: Hervé Hôte]
The tower contains a concrete core and a steel frame. Its twisting shape is arranged around a circular glass atrium. The shape recalls Arles’ UNESCO World Heritage site – a vast Roman amphitheatre. When completed, the tower will stand at 56 metres high.
The unusual shape of the tower, reflects Gehry’s usual deconstructivist sensibility and love for unusual, bold forms. Described as a “stainless-steel tornado” by architecture critic Frank Miller, it has also been called a “crumpled drinks can” by some locals. Its polarising impact is natural due to its singular nature, bringing a playful sense of rejuvenation to an abandoned site.
Luma Arles tower
[Image: Hervé Hôte]
The Luma Arles was formerly a SNCF rail yard that has been inactive since 1986. U.S. firm Selldorf Architects have already made over empty industrial buildings on the site. They converting them into gallery spaces and public gardens.
Hoffmann is a heiress to the Hoffmann-La Roche pharmaceutical fortune. She contributed €150 million to the development of the art centre. Hoffmann, along with her family, have a strong passion for revitalising the vestiges of a post-industrial city. Gehry, known for rejuvenation projects such as the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao in Spain, was an ideal match for Hoffmann’s vision.
Luma Arles tower
[Image: Hervé Hôte]
“This cultural complex will be integrated into the artistic, intellectual, ecological, social and economic fabric of Arles and the Camargue,” stated the Luma Arles’ website.
Architects project that the tower’s opening date will open in spring 2020. The tower house exhibition spaces, research facilities, workshop and seminar rooms, and artist studios. Gehry is also currently renovating the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

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