The key actors – Season 2

Between 1952 and 1969 the development of the Cité was marked by renewed impetus from the historic partners and also by the arrival on the scene of new actors (the Grandes Ecoles, newly influential States), which turned the Cité into the prestigious stage for international relations and a laboratory of innovations in architecture for the great masters of Modernism.

by Lucille Testard de Marans

The Fondation nationale: the catalyst for renewed impetus

After a period made difficult by the military occupation, which devastated the life and organisation of the Cité, the Fondation nationale entered a fresh phase of development, urged on by its new President, Raoul DAUTRY, the former Minister for Reconstruction and Town Planning.

The Grandes Ecoles: the support of partners of prestige

With the Maison des Élèves-ingénieurs Arts et Métiers, constructed between 1950 and 1961, and the Maison des Industries Agricoles et Alimentaires, built in 1965, the Grandes Ecoles made plain their interest in the work of the Cité and their willingness to be part of it; this added further to the prestige of the site.

To start with, it was intended that the Maison des Arts et Métiers should comprise a lodge (inaugurated in 1950). However, the increase in numbers led the Ecole to commission a second lodge (inaugurated in 1961), thus making this residence, with its 710 beds, the largest residence on the Cité.

Young States emerging on to the international scene

The second phase of development for the Cité Universitaire was that of taking on an international character. This proclaimed, moreover, that the development of the Cité is closely linked to global affairs and the balance of power. 

In fact, while the period 1925-1938 had opened the Cité to the major “Western “, especially European powers, (the United States, Canada, Belgium, the Netherlands, Great Britain, Spain, etc.), the period 1952-1969 saw young States (sprung from decolonisation or wars of independence) make their presence and their influence felt on the international scene by constructing a residence on the Cité.

Thus the Cité was joined by, among others,  Tunisia (1953), the Federal Republic of Germany (1956), Cambodia (1957) and the Lebanon (1963). Then, during the Cold War, it was joined by member States of the non-aligned movement, such as India (1968) and Iran (1969).

PARENT, LE CORBUSIER, COSTA: the masters of revival

This fresh period of construction was marked, in its turn, by innovative experiments in architecture created by architects of renown. Among these may be cited LE CORBUSIER and Lucio COSTA, famous representatives of the Modern Movement, to whom the Cité owes the Maison du Brésil (1959).

As for Claude PARENT, architectural theoretician of the Oblique Style, he designed the Fondation Avicenne (ex-Maison de l’Iran) in 1969.