Les Forges

Built in the 1870s and fire-damaged in 1986, this building, which was renovated by Annabelle Selldorf, now houses intimate exhibition spaces, as well as a multipurpose outdoor courtyard.

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Some information and key figures:
  • Total area: 4343 square meters
  • Exhibition space first floor: 718 square meters
  • Exhibition space second floor: 845 square meters
  • Cour des Forges: 1415 square meters
  • Use: exhibition spaces, galleries, café, courtyard, performance space, symposiums, presentations.
  • Opening: 2014

History and initial purpose

Built in the 1870s, it was in this building that the pieces of metal used in the construction of locomotives were made.

The current Les Forges building was built on the site of the Parc des Ateliers in the 1870s, after the destruction of older forges that were located where La Grande Halle now stands.

The forge workshop contained cranes mounted on pivots and jibs that allowed hot parts to be transported quickly between furnaces, forges, and steam hammers.

The parts were then transported to the fitting department, sometimes called turning department, which took care of the machining and finishing with the help of machine tools. Les Forges building was modernized between 1935 and 1939 with the installation of compressed air power hammers. 

Building renovation

Damaged by a fire in the 1980s, Les Forges was the first building renovated by LUMA Arles.

Herve Hote

When the Parc des Ateliers closed, in 1984, Les Forges building was used as a storage area by the Ducros and Moltonel companies. Its roof was partially destroyed in a fire in 1986, after which the building was abandoned for several years.

Les Forges were renovated in 2014 by Annabelle Selldorf as part of the transformation of the Parc des Ateliers undertaken by LUMA Arles.

The building is divided into a 2,930 square meters of interior space and an exterior courtyard of 1,415 square meters.


Victor Picon

Today, Les Forges houses exhibition spaces, whose modular scale on two floors forges a direct relationship with the artwork. Shows from the Rencontres de la photographie have been held there, as well as the exhibition entitled “Picture Industry. A Provisional History of the Technical Image 1844–2018” in 2018–2019. The remaining interior of the building houses a centralized biodiesel-fueled cogeneration system that contributes to the site’s energy production.

The exterior courtyard, located at the western end of the structure, within the original building, is a multi-purpose space that includes a café and a collective space for conferences and concerts. The L.A. Dance Project Company presented choreographer Benjamin Millepied's I fall, I flow, I melt in 2019, and artist Rirkrit Tiravanija installed his work, DO WE DREAM UNDER THE SAME SKY, there, in 2018.

Anne-Sylvie bonnet


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