Some information and key figures:
- Construction: between 1888 and 1894
- Total area: 5000 square meters
- Height: 17.5 meters
- Length: 120 meters
- Width: 40 meters
- Renovation: in 2007 by Moatti–Rivière Architects, at the initiative of PACA region
- Use: exhibition space and events.
History and initial purpose
An ironworks typical of industrial architecture
Built between 1888 and 1894, this 5,000-square-meter building is a former ironworks in which steam locomotives were built and repaired. This activity requires powerful means of handling, such as the lifting of locomotive boilers, which explains the building volume (120 m long, 40 m wide, 17.5 m high) and its equipment with bridge cranes.
It is an architecture based on utilitarian principles that give priority to technical and economic requirements over aesthetic research. This building is the largest still standing on the site of the former SNCF workshops.
The building was restored in 2007 by Moatti–Rivière Architects.
The ironworks was bought by the PACA region in the early 2000s. Moatti & Rivière won the architectural competition launched in 2005 and undertook the ambitious rehabilitation of that industrial cathedral with the aim of turning it into a cultural center linked to new technologies in the fields of multimedia creation, digital image, and the virtual.
The transformation of the building, which was completed in 2007, included the replacement of the façade with a glass wall covered with a 52-ton steel sheet panel, in a nod to the railway network and history of iron workers. A giant screen of about 3,000 square meters made up of 130,000 three-colored light spots was also installed on one side of the roof.
La Grande Halle is now one of the historic buildings of the Parc des Ateliers operated by LUMA Arles. For several years now, this unconditioned, covered hall has been hosting LUMA Arles’ exhibitions and cultural events in its central nave.
Among other exhibitions, visitors have discovered Jean Prouvé. Architect for Better Days, in 2017–18; Annie Leibovitz Archive Project #1. The Early Years, in 2017; and Rachel Rose’s Enclosure installation, in 2019.
More than 2,000 square meters of solar panels were installed on the southern part of the roof and produce part of the energy needed to run the site.