History of Cité internationale

Time for revival

Natural wear and tear compounded by damage during the Occupation led to deterioration in the architectural heritage of the Cité Internationale by the end of the 20th century, ushering in a time for revival. The result was an architectural and landscaping development plan drawn up with the City of Paris.

The campaign, backed by a wide-ranging patronage programme, was designed to cement campus unity and restore its heritage with a view to promoting sustainable development. The project included, for instance, plans to build new houses and reduce noise pollution.

a core value The Cité Internationale has always remained true to its policy of promoting dialogue, joining forces with a number of partners as part of its development campaign, including the French ministries of higher education, research, culture and the environment, the regional council for Ile-de-France and the City of Paris.

From to ideal to the real

The Cité Internationale was set up as part of the inter-war pacifist movement. Its founders, driven by a humanist ideal, sought to create “a school of human relations to promote peace” with a view to fostering harmony between different nations by furthering friendship between students, researchers and artists from all over the world.

The government at the time was keen to attract more students to Paris. However, the campaign was hampered by the housing crisis and the resulting accommodation shortage. The Cité Internationale came as a humanist response to a real problem.

Bankers, industrialists, local authorities and governments were all approached in a bid to raise the necessary funding. The first residence opened its doors in 1925 and was named after the donor who made it possible, Emile Deutsch de la Meurthe. The Cité Internationale welcomed its first students for the start of the 1925 academic year.

The founding fathers of the Cité Internationale
– André Honnorat, French MP and Minister for Education
– Paul Appell, Rector of the Académie de Paris
– Emile Deutsch de la Meurthe, Owner of Pétroles Jupiter
– Jean Branet, Executive Director at Pétroles Jupiter and Government Advisor
– David Davide-Weill, Managing Partner at Banque Lazare

Development plan

Although the science of town planning was still in its infancy in France, a comprehensive landscape and development plan was put in place from the outset for the Cité Internationale and its surroundings.

The residences that make up the Cité Internationale were built between 1923 and 1969. The first was the Deutsch de la Meurthe Foundation, opened in 1925. The building’s architect based his design on the “garden city” concept to create a series of detached houses, providing a model for what would follow. Iran House (now the Avicenne Foundation) is the latest addition to the complex. The founders of each house were free to choose their own architecture, leading to an eclectic mix of styles that reflects a fusion of national symbols and contemporary trends. Through this successful blend of different designs, the appeal of its listed buildings and a landscaped garden featuring 400 species, the Cité Internationale has established a heritage of widely acclaimed quality.

A range of financial backers
The project to build the Cité Internationale was financed by governments, associations, schools and patrons, with leading names including Konrad Adenauer, John Rockefeller Jr and Murry Guggenheim. Some residences were even built as a result of fundraising campaigns among local populations in cities and departments.