Is it a lighthouse? A metallic tree? A shipwreck? Frank O. Gehry’s sculptural building features four towers with silvered, wavy facades, supported by a stone-coloured column. The American architect was inspired by the local area including the limestone cliffs of the Alpilles, the mysterious, craggy rocks of Beaux-de-Provence and the paintings of Vincent Van Gogh. Stainless steel bricks capture the variations in light. Glass boxes connect the different levels. A vast, 54m wide, circular glass atrium on the ground floor is a reminder of the amphitheater of Arles, one of the most beautiful Roman sites in France.
A new view of Arles
Suspended on the ninth floor, a terrace will offer remarkable views over the old town, the meandering line of the River Rhône, the Camargue, the plains of Crau, the Alpilles and even the Abbey of Montmajour. Frank Ghery’s 56m high Bâtiment Ressource features galleries dedicated to a variety of art forms including culinary arts, experimental art and research. The ground floor main entrance to the Parc des Ateliers, includes several exhibition spaces which are specifically designed to accommodate international events.
The Luma Foundation has championed artistic creation in the visual arts since 2004. Various projects have explored themes such as the environment, culture, education and human rights. The six buildings of the Parc des Ateliers, including the Grande Halle, the Forges and the Mécanique Générale host year-round events for the public, and in the summer hosts its famous photography exhibition: The Refectory restaurant and the Off-Print bookstore also form part of the Luma project.
Take a stroll at Alyscamps
Close by, just the other side of the Minimes pathway, the necropolis of Alyscamps stretches beside the Craponne canal. Saint-Honorat church sits at the end of this former pagan, now Christian cemetery, on Via Aurelia Roman road. The scene has inspired many painters including Van Gogh and Gauguin, the avenue, lined with ancient sarcophagi, is a hauntingly romantic place to stroll. Whilst waiting for the newly planted garden designed by landscaper Bas Smets in the Parc des Ateliers to bloom, head to Alyscamps to enjoy its shade and the beauty.
New National Higher School of Photography
At the foot of Frank O. Gehry's building, another architectural jewel has opened: l'Ecole Nationale Supérieure de la Photographie (National School of Photography). With a 120m long cantilevered roof and transparent showrooms, architect Marc Barani has created a building that is thought provoking and exhilarating. Here, photographers will find plenty to inspire them. This iconic building is truly fitting for a city that has become a worldwide leader of photography since creating the famous Rencontres d'Arles photography exhibition in 1969.