Luma Arles

Arles, France

LUMA Arles is a new contemporary art center that brings together artists, researchers, and creators from every field to collaborate on multi-disciplinary works and exhibitions. Located south of Arles’ historic city center, the project repurposes the industrial ruins of a 16-acre rail depot and introduces a new public park. Selldorf Architects is part of a core team of designers including Frank Gehry and Bas Smets working on the complex. In addition to contributing to the overall master plan, Selldorf Architects is designing the renovation and conversion of two former rail structures into new exhibition facilities.

The project balances the original 19th century industrial vocabulary with the Center’s new contemporary purpose. The original structures were maintained while creating a new balance of indoor and outdoor spaces. Steel columns and trusses are refinished and skylights relocated and expanded, all in service of creating well-proportioned spaces with natural light and clear circulation.

A new open-air courtyard includes a café and is a communal gathering space for presentations and concerts. Les Forges, the original foundry building, contains two levels of gallery space totaling 31,500 sf. The restored Mécanique Générale is a 48,000 sf structure containing exhibition space and artist workshops. A new bay creates a 65’ column-free span in the historic space. The modern addition’s exposed steel frame, concrete façade, and zinc roof create a resonant contrast with the existing structure.

(Photography credits: Hervé Hôte)