The Second War World’s severe blow to pacifist ideals didn’t affect the founders’ voluntarism. Under the momentum of Raoul Dautry, the former minister of Reconstruction and Town Planning, who succeeded André Honnorat as the president of the Fondation nationale in 1948, the Cité universitaire rapidly embarked on a new era of development: 12 houses were constructed in the 1950s, followed by 5 more in the 1960s. With these 17 new houses, the Cité universitaire had capacity for 5500 beds, double that at the end of the first construction period (1925-1938).
The damage caused by the site’s occupation by the German army and Allies was considerable. The Cité universitaire thus began a vast campaign to restore its estate and to replace damaged or missing furniture at the end of the war. The renovations of the athletic tacks, the sports grounds and the grand lawn, as well as the plantation of new trees, finally allowed the Cité universitaire to return to its pre-war state at the end of the 1950s.
Created predominantly with the help of foreign governments – there were fewer benefactors –, the new foundations were built, for the most part on new plots located in the east and west of the park. Between 1950 and 1969, the development of the Cité universitaire was marked by the arrival of new participants (grandes écoles and new influential states) who made the Cité universitaire the prestigious theatre of new international relations and a laboratory for architectural innovations for the grand masters of the post-war architecture scene.
With the Maison des élèves-ingénieurs Arts et Métiers constructed between 1950 and 1961, and the Maison des industries agricoles et alimentaires, built in 1956, the grandes écoles affirmed their interest in the Cité universitaire’s work and their willingness to take part, strengthening the site’s prestige. The original plan was for the Maison des Arts et Métiers to consist of one pavilion, inaugurated in 1950. But the increase in staff members led the school to commission a second pavilion, which was inaugurated in 1961, making this house , with its 710 beds, the biggest on campus.
The Cité universitaire’s second phase of development was also that of its internationalisation. It confirmed that the campus development was largely linked to the evolution of the world and its power balance. If the period between 1925 and 1938 had opened the Cité universitaire up to the great “Western” powers (the United States, Canada, Belgium, the Netherlands, Great Britain, Spain etc.) then the period between 1952 and 1969 saw the young states, born out of decolonisation or independence wars, establish their presence and their influence on an international scene via the construction of a campus building. Notably, this was the case with Tunisia (1953), Cambodia (1957) and Lebanon (1963). Then, during the Cold War, the member states of the non-aligned movement, such as India (1968) and Iran (1969), re-joined the project of the great founders.
At the end of the 1950s, the construction of the ring road upset the appearance of the site and permanently impeded the Cité universitaire’s expansion ambitions. In effect, established on the southern border, the ring road cuts the Cité universitaire off from a 60-meter-wide strip of land, depriving it of 2 buildable hectares. In addition to this size reduction there was the separation of the estate: one of the two buildings of the Maison des Arts et Métiers was isolated on the other side of the boulevard. Certain sports facilities also had to be knocked down or reorganised to free up the southern border. From this moment on, confined from north to south and from east to west, the Cité internationale universitaire de Paris (so called from 1963 to better signify the campus’s international character and its attachment to the University of Paris) no longer had the possibility of expansion and it’s with the Maison d’Iran, inaugurated in 1969, that the second construction cycled ended. We will need to wait until 2012 and the property exchanges to discern the new development prospects.
Whilst the first construction period was characterised above all by the coexistence of various architecture styles recalling the national identity of the houses, this new period saw the introduction of an international style through the masterpieces of famous architects. This new construction period was marked by the innovative architectural experiences realised by renowned architects. Among them we can count Le Corbusier and Lucio Costa, famous representatives of the modern pre-war movement, to whom the Cité internationale owes the Maison du Brésil (1959). Claude Parent, the architect-theoretician for the oblique plan, co-signed the Fondation Avicenne (the former Maison de l’Iran) in 1969.
Born on the 6th of October 1887 in La Chaux-de-Fonds in Switzerland, Le Corbusier was an architect, urbanist, decorator, painter, sculptor and literary man. He was one of the main representatives of the modern movement.
Le Corbusier constructed two houses at the Cité internationale. Firstly the Fondation suisse in 1933, that he designed with his cousin Pierre Jeanneret. This house was one of the most noteworthy from the interwar period. The Maison du Brésil was the second house that the Cité internationale entrusted to Le Corbusier, together with Lucio Costa. Inaugurated in 1959, it is one of the campus’s masterpieces.
Born on the 24th of October 1903 in Paris. Charlotte Perriand studied at the école de l’Union centrale des arts décoratifs between 1920 and 1925. Two years later, she became the interior decorator and set up her workshop on place Saint-Sulpice. She was one of the emblematic figures for architecture and design of the 20th century. Her first collaboration with the Cité internationale began with the Fondation suisse. She participated in designing the original furniture, privileging functionality and storage space. Later on, she made the interior equipment for the Maison du Brésil and also the bookcase for the rooms in the Maison de la Tunisie and the Maison du Mexique.
Born on the 26th February in 1923 in Neuilly-sur-Seine, Claude Parent was a French architect, known for The Function of the Oblique in architecture that he erected as an artistic movement. Professor at the École spéciale d’architecture in Paris, he trained in the workshop that had also trained Paul Virilio and other big names in contemporary French architecture, such as Jean Nouvel. Claude Parent won the national grand prize for architecture in 1979 and was elected as president of the Academie d’architecture then as a member of the Academie des beaux-arts in 2005 in the seat of Jean Balladur. At the Cité internationale, he realised the Maison de l’Iran (known today as the Fondation Avicenne) with André Bloc, Moshen Foroughi and Heydar Ghiai in 1969.
The Cité internationale is now going through a notable development phase. By 2025 it will welcome 10 new houses, with 1800 additional places, and will modernise its infrastructure and services. Discover the project and the new architectural achievements.
To find out more about the history of the Cité internationale, its architecture, houses and its development, visit the Heritage Center: a permanent exhibition, themed tours and innovative digital media will transport you through time and space to discover this exceptional place.