Despite its unusual shape, the Gehry building is the most museum-like structure on the Luma campus, with massive white cube exhibition spaces, a library and an archive on the lower levels, as well as a cafe, offices, studios, seminar rooms, and a viewing terrace. Even here, the gleaming white walls of compressed local salt bricks on each floor, as well as panels made from sunflower pulp and concrete in the cafe, attest to Hoffmann’s breadth of vision.
Atelier Luma, a design and research laboratory that transforms local products such as salt, sunflowers, rice, algae, and grass species into a variety of building materials and textiles, many of which are used throughout the site, is one of the Luma project’s pillars.
“The idea is that artists, scientists, and researchers can collaborate and produce unexpected results,” said Luma CEO Mustapha Bouhayati. “Disciplines will not be separated — we will try to bring in new thinking and practises.”
He continued, “In France, we say, ‘That’s how it’s done.'” ‘Perhaps it could be different,’ says Maja.
Hoffmann has deep ties to Arles and the surrounding Camargue region. Her father, Luc Hoffmann, an ornithologist, relocated the family to Arles to establish an observation station and conservation centre, and she spent her school years there. (In 2010, he also assisted in the establishment of the Van Gogh Foundation in the city.)
She was about 12 years old when the Rencontres d’Arles, a photography festival that now attracts tens of thousands of visitors each summer, was founded, according to her. Its ambition and international reach left a lasting impression on her.
Arles reopened the refurbished Grande Halle in 2007, one of the large industrial buildings on the now-deserted site of the rail yard, which closed in 1984. Hoffman, who owned a home in Arles at the time, had established the Luma Foundation (named after her two children).