The College owes its existence to an action committee created in 1926 by Dr Loudon, the Dutch ambassador to Paris. The committee aimed to collect funding to construct a building for Dutch students in Paris. Abraham Preyer, an American originally from the Netherlands, made a very generous donation in memory of his son Arthus who was killed on the French front on the 18th of August 1918. Construction of the College began in 1928 but it was interrupted between 1933 and 1937 due to the economic crisis.
Realised thanks to the financial contribution from the Dutch and French states, the house was inaugurated on the 2nd of December 1938 by Their Royal Highnesses Princess Juliana and Prince Bernhard of the Netherlands.
The Collège néerlandais is managed by the Fondation nationale Cité internationale universitaire de Paris.
The Collège néerlandais was designed by Willem Marinus Dudok. It is the architect’s only work in France, constituting a unique testimony to one of the most important architects of the Dutch school active in the interwar period. Its right-angled shape, interweaving geometric volumes and decorative starkness constitute a major testimony to the modernist architectural movement in the 1920s and notably to the famous Amsterdam School. Some architectural elements refer to the Dutch culture. The corner tower evokes medieval belfries in northern Dutch towns and the windows of small panned windows in Dutch houses. The interior of the house is organised around a patio which is a real “light trap”. It offers a warm ambience that contrasts to the austerity of the façades. The monumental paintings in the Great Lounge are signed by Hordijk and Doeve.
The house was named Fondation Juliana after the princess of the Netherlands who expressed her interest very early on in the project. The building, with its right-angles, interweaving of geometric columns and decorative starkness clearly express its affiliation with the modern movement. However, some subtle architectural elements refer to the national culture and notably the famous Amsterdam School. It was classed as a historic monument in 2005. It has 141 rooms.
The house benefitted from a complete restoration between 2011 and 2016, funded by the Kingdom of the Netherlands, the Île-de-France region, several French ministers and the Cité internationale. These works gave the house a new lease of life and improved the living standards for its residents. Private sanitary facilities were created in the majority of the rooms. The original furniture has been restored. The common living areas were also greatly improved. Every floor benefits from a fully-equipped communal cooking space in order to privilege the quality of shared moments. The Great Lounge was redesigned to make space for a reception area for the residents, but also for the public.
Farah Diba, the former Empress of Iran, resided at the Collège néerlandais from 1957 to 1959 during her architectural studies in Paris. She was behind the construction of the Maison de l’Iran (known today as the Fondation Avicenne) at the Cité internationale.