The Maison des élèves ingénieurs arts et métiers was built to house final year students from the l’Ecole nationale supérieure d’Arts et Métiers (ENSAM). The decision taken by a grand école to open a building at the Cité internationale reinforced the site’s prestige. The President of the Republic inaugurated it in 1950. Initially the residence was made up of a classic pavilion with 335 rooms that was funded mostly thanks to a donation from the Society of ENSAM alumni. Designed by the architects Urbain Cassan, Max Bourgoin and Georges Paul, the building was opened in 1950.
As the number of ENSAM promotions doubled, a second pavilion was constructed to accommodate the increase in students. Inaugurated in 1961, it was designed to be similar to the first. The two pavilions are linked by a footbridge that crosses the ring road. In total the residence has 514 rooms and includes a gymnasium in the more recently built pavilion, making it the largest building at the Cité internationale.
The Maison des élèves ingénieurs Arts et Métiers holds the status of a foundation and is recognised as a public utility of which the board of directors is chaired by the president of the Société des Ingénieurs Arts et Métiers.
The first building has a refined fifties style, which was started by the Perret brothers. The back façade has two stepped wings. Its monumentality is softened by a bicolour coating made of reclaimed stone. The hall is decorated with a large painting by René Demeurisse and four bas-reliefs by Pierre-Marie Poisson depicting allegoric feminine figures representing the four values (technical nature, creation, authority and union).
The second pavilion was built on the architectural principles of the first. It has an exposed reinforced concrete framework with filling concrete.
A complete renovation of the two pavilions was undertaken between 2017 and 2018 to offer modern and functional housing, with an average area of 18 m2. These two important work phases were allowed to improve the comfort of residents. The house now has 447 true complete studios with a WC, shower and kitchenette but there are also 23 shared flats with some offering 100 m² for 4 people. Only the floors and façades were preserved.
Work was also carried out on the interior acoustic comfort but also and most importantly concerning the ring road.
Finally, particular attention was paid to the communal areas so that the residents would benefit from a lounge/kitchen on each floor to exchange and share their meals together. They also have access to gyms, study rooms, music rooms, craft rooms and laundry rooms as well as a foyer.
The construction of the ring road in the early 1960s split the site, isolating the first building; since then it has been linked to the second by a walkway over the ring road.
Jean-Marie Colombani is a French journalist and essayist who was born in Dakar. A cofounder of the online magazine Slate.fr, he was also the director of Le Monde from 1994 until 2007.