by Christian Horn
The northeast of Paris is architecturally diverse, with a mix of 19th and 20th century constructions. In contrast to the authentically historic background, whole blocks have been sold to real estate companies, erased, and rebuilt in a style that tries to be a modern interpretation of the 19th-century Parisian buildings of Georges-Eugène Haussmann but never really reaches the same quality.
It is here, in the city's 19th arrondissement, that an elementary school demonstrates another way to place new structures among old.
Until the 1980s, several blocks had been occupied by the studios of the Société Française de Production (SFP), a TV production company. Then the SFP moved part of their operation to the suburbs, leaving a large unused area.
The site was sold in 1990 to the French construction company Bouygues. The French architecture firm Valode & Pistre, designers of the master plan for nearly 700 apartments built there, split the block and created a small private street to provide access to the buildings. The street was named "Cours du 7ième Art" (Street of the 7th Art) in memory of the old film studios.
One long and narrow site remained empty along this new street. The construction company decided it was too complicated and expensive to build apartments there, so they gave the site to the City of Paris. In 1996 the city ran a competition for the design of an elementary school for children aged two to six. The winner was French architect Gilles Margot-Duclot. >>>
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