In 1909 a group of academics from Buenos Aires decided to create an exchange network between the Université de Paris and its Argentinian counterpart. This led to the creation of a French Institute in Buenos Aires and an Argentinian Institute in Paris. The latter was built at the Cité internationale, under the name Fondation Argentine. Construction was financed by the Argentinian government and the private benefactor Otto S. Bemberg, and Argentinian industrialist from Germany. It was inaugurated on the 27th of June 1928 by the President of the French Republic, Gaston Doumergue.
The house holds the status of a foundation and is recognised as a public utility of which the board of directors is chaired by the Argentinian ambassador in France.
The realisation of the Fondation Argentine was entrusted to three architects: the Frenchmen René Bétourné and Léon Fagne, and the Argentinian Tito Saubidet. The building is made up of two pavilions which are joined by a small garden and a covered gallery: a large building with 50 rooms, designed by the two French architects and a small building with 25, designed by Tito Saubidet. Initially, the large pavilion was taken up by men and married couples and women were housed in the small building. Mixing was introduced with the advent of democracy in 1983.
The main entrance, located in the larger of the two pavilions, is highlighted by a columned porch in an Argentinian style. The semi-circular archway on the ground floor and the projection of a canal-tiled roof elegantly reference Hispanic tradition, recalling the former farm houses (“estancias”) of the Argentinian pampas with its form and expression, without subscribing to regionalist vocabulary. The building also affirms its connection with the eclecticism in the Fine-Arts style with a tripartite composition and the presence of a central attic.
The interior of the residence offers a warm atmosphere as can be seen with the Art Deco style of the large lounge with its African walnut woodwork, club armchairs, beautiful wooden fireplace and library. The house as 75 rooms.
Julio Cortázar (1914-1984) is an Argentinian writer and the author of novels and short stories. Winner of the Prix Médicis étranger, he acquired his French nationality towards the end of his life as an act of protest against the Argentinian military dictatorship.