Dezeen Magazine

Luma Arles tower by Frank Gehry

Frank Gehry's stainless steel-clad Luma Arles tower takes shape in France

twisting tower clad in reflective stainless steel panels, designed by architect Frank Gehry, is taking form in the south of France.

Canadian-American architect Frank Gehry, who was awarded the Pritzker Prize in 1989, designed the tower for the Luma Arles complex, an arts centre established by Swiss collector Maja Hoffmann.

Luma Arles tower by Frank Gehry

The tower's opening date has been pushed back to spring 2020, but new photos show the irregular form of the metallic tower taking shape above the city of Arles.

Due to be 56 metres high when complete, the tower is formed of a concrete core with a steel frame. Glass boxes and shining metal panels are stacked around this in an irregular formation above a circular glass atrium.

Luma Arles tower by Frank Gehry

Gehry's design for the facade is supposed to echo the craggy rock formations found near the city, the same kind that inspired sometime-resident Vincent van Gogh to paint them in 1888.

Inside, a vast circular atrium will recall the Roman amphitheatre in Arles, part of the city's designated UNESCO World Heritage site.

American architecture critic Frank Miller described Gehry's design as a "stainless-steel tornado", although some locals have reportedly dismissed it as resembling a crumpled drinks can.

Luma Arles tower by Frank Gehry

The Luma Arles is set on the site of an SNCF rail yard that has been abandoned since 1986.

New York-based Selldorf Architects has already transformed several industrial buildings on the site into gallery spaces, while Belgian landscape architect Bas Smets is creating a public garden, the Parc des Ateliers, nearby.

Hoffmann has contributed €150 million (£133 million) to the project, according to ArtNet, through her Luma Foundation, set up to support independent artists. The pharmaceutical heiress to the Hoffmann-La Roche fortune grew up in Arles and continues her family's patronage of the struggling post-industrial city.

Luma Arles tower by Frank Gehry

Gehry has had a reputation as the go-to architect for rejuvenation projects since his Guggenheim Museum Bilbao opened in Spain in 1997.

The undulating building of titanium, glass and limestone has been credited with attracting so much prosperity to the port, it coined the term "the Bilbao effect".

The architect has recently completed an extension for tech giant Facebook's campus in Palo Alto, California. His renovation of the Philadelphia Museum of Art is still underway.

Luma Arles tower by Frank Gehry

The Arla Lumes brings together artists and designers from disciplines to encourage them to innovate.

Dutch designers Eric Klarenbeek and Maartje Dros were invited to set up their AlgaeLab on the campus in 2017, where they can now develop their bioplastics 3D-printed from algae.

Photography by Hervé Hôte.