A few steps from the Place de la Nation, east of the capital, the new campus of the Parisian university Sorbonne Nouvelle displays its white facades pigmented with yellow, blue, green and its buildings with wavy lines. 35,000 new square meters in the heart of Paris, which will receive 6,500 students a day in September. That is, throughout the year, 18,000 students enrolled to study arts, theater, cinema, letters, languages and human and social sciences.
The land, whose land belonged to the Ministry of Agriculture, adjacent to the ONF tower, was delivered in early June. It took eight years to bring this higher education giant, which follows the strategy started several years ago to bring campuses back to the city. The University thus offers its students a magnificent location close to public transport and within Paris. The cost of the operation amounts to 144.4 million euros, of which 122.4 million are financed by the State (under the Campus Paris programme), the Ile-de-France Region (20 million) and the City of Paris (2 million ).
There are no more students and faculty scattered in fifteen places since the 1970s, including the Censier site, which is closing due to asbestos and ruin, Dauphine or Bernardins. From now on, students are grouped into two main poles, the Nation, the flagship that brings together 90% of students and spaces, and the historic one, the Latin Quarter.
The architectural competition was launched at the end of 2013 under the MOP law of the Ministry of Higher Education. The public university development institution in the Ile-de-France region (Epaurif) acted as project manager, and it was the architect and urban planner Christian de Portzamparc who won. The construction site will not have been easy. No less than sixteen main companies were selected for the various batches, but for various reasons (slowdown due to Covid, difficulties of some companies, etc.) the work was delayed by a year and a half.
Reassure the locals
Today, the campus offers students a unique environment with its 146 classrooms, five language labs, the large three-story library, three amphitheaters, an auditorium with retractable bleachers, a movie theater, sports auditoriums, recording studios, a TV set.
The great obsession of Christian de Portzamparc and his teams has been to flood the spaces with a light that contrasts with those universities of the 1970s that so lacked it. The colors in the interior are also ubiquitous, with the surprise to see the kiosk or the screening room entirely painted red. The gardens run and weave between the buildings. With the green roofs, there are 4,300 square meters of “nature in the city”.
This site will be a big change for this district of Picpus-Nation, which has already seen its stores and boutiques adapt to this future young clientele. Also, at the beginning of the project, it took many meetings to reassure local residents about this coming wave of students. To help with a smooth transition, some spaces will be open to the public, such as the library or venues.