VENICE.- The Parc des Ateliers in Arles is a model and a master plan for a new type of cultural utopia. Imagined, invented and designed as the ultimate cultural destination by artists, architects, art professionals and intellectuals, in accordance with local inhabitants who have an intimate knowledge of the town of Arles, it is an open campus for creative production, display, study and preservation. Photography and the moving image are its central force and innovative research and exchange are its ongoing mission. Aligned with the aims of the LUMA Foundation, its founding body, the Parc des Ateliers unites culture, education and the environment, and encourages a fruitful dialogue between disciplines and visions rich in contrast as vital elements of a forward-looking society. Located in the heart of the city of Arles and surrounded by the unique environment of the Camargue, it acts as a bridge between the industrial heritage and the UNESCO-protected historical core of this multifaceted city. It also recreates the public park that was once the meeting place of every layer of its population, and thus becomes a project for and with the people of Arles. The master plan was created in 2008; the estimated completion of the project is 2011.
The Regional Council of Provence-Alpes-Côte dAzur (PACA) and the city of Arles initiated a study for the economic and urban development of the area of the former SNCF railway garage, located in the very center of Arles. The final decision was to establish a cultural landmark. The LUMA Foundation a non-profit, Swiss-based foundation, created in 2004 by art collector and philanthropist Maja Hoffmann, specializing in projects combining the environment, education, and culture took the cultural vocation given to the site by the City and the Region one bold step further.
Joining this creative initiative are Actes Sud publishers and Les Rencontres dArles and with the initial observations of the ABF (Architecte des Bâtiments de France) and input from the ENSP (École Nationale Supérieure de la Photographie), together they have contributed to the design of a visionary master plan for the area. The new regeneration project combines a vast cultural campus which offers exhibition and archive space, with an office and service building for Les Rencontres dArles, the publishing house Actes Sud, the school of photography ENSP, a cinema, commercial and residential areas and a hotel complex, and with the hope of adding over time a new train station, and a memorial museum for the railway workers. The building project will be set in a landscaped public garden.
The LUMA Foundation recruited Los Angeles-based visionary architect Frank Gehry, and Gehry Partners, LLP to create a landmark building to house the Foundation, and to create the master plan of the site. French real-estate giants Nexity are providing their expertise in terms of the commercial development and how it relates to the site planning.
A snapshot of this work-in-process can be seenat the Venice Biennale of Architecture and at the festival des Rencontres dArles with an exhibition of Frank Gehry and Gehry Partners, LLPs models of the Parc des Ateliers.