We’ve taken a look at various surfaces made from unusual materials – notably tiles from salt created by Chilean architect Mále Uribe Forés, sunflower surfaces from Thomas Vailly, and algae infused tiles from the Bio-Integrated Design Lab – and today we’re sharing something that utilises all three – Frank Gehry’s tower for the Luma Foundation in Arles.
The project’s innovative material use is designed to lower the carbon footprint of the building, with each piece masterminded by circular design lab Atelier Luma. For the exterior cladding of the tower, as well as some interior spaces, specially grown salt panels were utilised. Using the local Camargue salt, Atelier Luma’s Crystallization Plant submerges metal mesh in the salt marshes where the salt crystalises over a period of two weeks creating individual tiles without external sources of power.
On the inside of the tower, the use of innovative locally produced materials continues, starting with the tiles in the bathrooms. Returning to the salt flats, algae is harvested. Making use of the varied colour profiles of many waterborne algae Atelier Luma’s Algae Platform (formed in 2016 by Dutch designers Eric Klarenbeek and Maartje Dros), tiles in 20 different shades are installed throughout the space. Approximately 30,000 injection moulded algae tiles were created for the project, acting as a beautifully decorative carbon sink.
Finally to the bar, where the issue of acoustics is addressed with the aid of sunflowers. Similar to polystyrene in both texture and function, this biomaterial created by Atelier Luma’s Sunflower Power uses all the leftovers from the sunflower oil industry. The marrow and fibers are ground and combined with organic and mineral binders and formed into sound proofing wall panels.
A new post by Hanna Simpson, Diary of a Tile Addict, September 2021.