Arles has become, over time, the city of photography.
This position is going to be further underlined by the cultural project that is taking the shape of two new buildings on either side of Avenue Victor Hugo: the Luma Foundation and the ENSP.
Their necessary dialogue will take place by in the context of a complex site, where urban fabric and infrastructures co-exist in a topography that has been radically transformed.
The organic and stratified palimpsest of the ancient city comes to an end on a beautiful rocky spur, contrasting sharply with the horizontality of the railway infrastructure passing below.
Frank Gehry’s project, which draws its inspiration from the massiveness of the rock, paves the way for a translation of the site’s second structuring component, i.e. the linearity of the infrastructures.
The vibrant verticality of Gehry’s project is matched by the tense horizontality of the ENSP.
Raised by four concrete blocks, its roof floats above the forecourt, opening up views to the Mouleyrès church and ensuring urban continuity.
The school articulates two simple and historical figures of the city of Arles. The hall, in reference to the industrial heritage of the Ateliers, and the mineral patio, anchored in its ground.
It is at once linear and extroverted, compact and introverted.
Extroverted, it opens onto the public space and structures the Fab Lab auditorium and exhibition rooms along the forecourt, encouraging the public to pass through its doors.
Introverted, it collects the teaching and research facilities around a patio to encourage concentration and exchanges.
The transition from the public spaces to the spaces dedicated exclusively to teaching occurs gradually over three levels from the ground level of the city to that of the park.
In the centre of the building, the foyer extends into the patio by an amphitheatre forming a staple in the shape of a hole, like a breathing space for unscheduled uses.
The school was designed as a flexible and evolving habitat.
The single-material spaces are determined at the minimum by the structure of the building and the work on natural light.
They seek to articulate their availability, their capacity to accommodate the buzz of student life, the repurposing of functions, the improvised displays, the informal exchanges.
Because, beyond the correspondences between photography and architecture, when we evoke such notions as the gaze, framing, light and movement, this project aims to capture the living and put it at the heart of the creative process. In our eyes, this is also the ultimate goal of photography, so that it continues to find its place in this unstable, evolving and exciting start to the twenty-first century.