LUMA Arles is – gathered in a single place – the expression of the multiple threads which have formed the fabric of Maja Hoffmann’s life. LUMA represents her relationship with art which grew and developed in the presence of artists from when she was a child, together with her close relationship with nature, both as an environment but also as an object of study and awe, given the complexity of the ecosystem and her awareness that its fragile balance has to be preserved.
What is LUMA Arles?
After the creation of the LUMA Foundation in 2004, dedicated to supporting contemporary artistic creation, the Swiss art patron and collector Maja Hoffmann launched the LUMA Arles project in 2013 in the Parc des Ateliers. This creative campus offers artists new perspectives for creation, collaboration and presentation of their work to the public.
The Parc des Ateliers is a former railway wasteland covering 11 hectares. On this site, the Tower designed by Frank Gehry and seven former factories from the industrial heritage of the XIXᵉ century interact in perfect harmony.
The establishment of this creative campus in the Parc des Ateliers required the redevelopment and transformation of the spaces in order to obtain maximum flexibility for research and artistic production.
The renovation of several industrial buildings in the Parc des Ateliers was entrusted to Selldorf Architects. Les Forges, La Cour des Forges, La Mécanique Générale, La Formation and Le Médico-Social are now used for different purposes such as exhibitions, presentations and artist residencies.
La Grande Halle, renovated in 2007 at the instigation of the PACA region, has not been renovated further and now houses exhibition spaces.
La Tour designed by Frank Gehry completes these spaces and offers new perspectives concerning the artistic programming of the place.
The Landscape Garden, park and pond surrounding the campus are the work of landscape architect Bas Smets. Conceived as a journey through the region by the fauna and flora that inhabit it, the 4-hectare park is a place of life, exchange and leisure open to all. As you wander around, works of art, sculptures and installations are revealed, extending the discovery.
Atelier LUMA is a think tank, a production workshop and a learning network located on the Parc des Ateliers. Atelier LUMA wants to co-develop new ways of producing and caring for a city and a bioregion, using design as a tool for transition.
Atelier LUMA’s first forays into the local area were marked by a large-scale research process, which sought to engage with the resources, know-how, and expertise already present in Arles and the Camargue region. Designers from various backgrounds were invited to join these explorations and interact with the local stakeholders, searching for potential collaborations and intersections.
The Landscape Garden
LUMA Arles is set within a public park, designed by landscape architect Bas Smets. He has developed a landscape project for the eleven-hectare site, working in close collaboration with the LUMA Arles Core Group as well as architects Frank Gehry and Annabelle Selldorf. Smets’ project aimed at transforming the Parc des Ateliers, a former 19th century industrial rail repair yard, into a lush public park.
The site used to be made up of a vast concrete platform devoid of any vegetation, resulting in desert-like climatic conditions. Inspired by the unique landscapes that surround Arles—the Camargue, the Crau, and the Alpilles—Smets has studied the different logics and strategies that the vegetation there follows to bring life back to the site. Fertile soil was added on top of the sterile concrete, transforming the flat horizontal site into a new topography, as if it had been sculpted by the North-Westerly mistral winter winds.
Over time, these strong winds would have created a dune-like landscape, characterized by a gentle upwind and steep downwind slope. This asymmetry provides shade during the summer months, while offering protection from the harsh winds during the winter ones. Trees, shrubs, grasses and groundcovers were introduced, creating a new landscape on the site.
The LUMA Foundation, Zurich
The LUMA Foundation was established in 2004 by Maja Hoffmann in Zurich, Switzerland, to support artistic creation in the fields of visual arts, photography, publishing, documentary films and multimedia.
Considered as a production tool for the multiple initiatives launched by Maja Hoffmann, the LUMA Foundation produces, supports and finances artistic projects that aim to deepen the understanding of issues related to the environment, human rights, education and culture.
Opening times: Open daily from 10 am to 7.30 pm., from June 26 to September 26.
Access: LUMA Arles, Parc des Ateliers, 35 avenue Victor Hugo, F-13200 Arles
Prices: Free access upon reservation: www.luma.org/arles