Wall of Salt / Mur de Sel

WALL OF SALT   │  2021

Wall of Salt by Atelier LUMA / Film by Alexandre Humbert

Exploring the transformation of salt as a naturally abundant mineral, into a material of architectural scale

Covering a surface of 560m2 and spread over 10 floors of the LUMA Gehry Tower in Arles, this project explores the transformation of salt as a naturally abundant mineral, into a material of architectural scale. Using the historic site of the salt fields in Salin de Giraud and knowledge of the saliniers, a system was developed to grow panels of salt employing the natural crystallisation that occurs in the Salins during the summer.

The process to make these panels descends from the historic technique of harvesting salt from seawater. The method uses the warm and dry climate of the South of France to crystallise the dissolved salt. 

The wind, rain, temperature, humidity, and water flow are all variables that impact the salt crystallisation process. Depending on the cycle in which they were grown, the crystallised panels manifest these natural conditions in its appearance resulting in various colours and texture.

A four-year multidisciplinary research preceded this outcome. Starting from a small material sample that would later be developed into a material and system that fits the scale and context of the public Gehry Tower building in Arles. It required the joint expertise of designers, saliniers, material scientists, architects, engineers, corrosion experts and many more. 

This new local material explores the social, economic, and ecological role of salt in the Camargue territory and beyond. And pushes a natural material and process to scale.

This project is developed as part of Atelier Luma / Luma Arles

Karlijn Sibbel as Material Designer / Engineer

Maja Hoffmann, Atelier Luma, Salins du Midi (Salins de Giraud), Labo Design Studio, Carrillo Carrelage, TESS, Citynox, Roux Frères , A-Corros, ENSIACET, Gehry Partners LLP,

Photo and video:

Alexandre Humbert, Adrian de Weerdt & Joana Luz

Salt Material Production at Salin de Giraud by Adrian de Weerdt

Salt Material Production at Salin de Giraud by Adrian de Weerdt

Salt Material Production at Salin de Giraud by Adrian de Weerdt

Salin de Giraud by Joana Luz

The unique mineral rich landscape hosts numerous species of salt loving plants, algae and shrimps – colouring the flamingos, that are a symbol to the territory, a bright pink.

Wall of Salt in Gehry Tower / by Alexandre Humbert
LUMA Gehry Tower Arles / by Hervé Hôte

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