At the Cité International Universitaire de Paris, an NFT house for Ukrainian refugees

The house of Ukraine within the Cité Internationale Universitaire de Paris, designed by the French architect Jean-Michel Wilmotte.

tradition of hospitality

Born after the First World War to the will of a group of pacifist philanthropists (André Honnorat, Paul Appell, Emile Deutsch …), the Cité Internationale, located in the south of Paris, was originally intended to receive students from all countries. In the 1920s and 1930s, these humanists bought land and asked a first line of countries to help them build the buildings that would represent them to share their culture, a condition, in their view, for lasting peace.

“This is how the House of Armenia welcomed the diaspora in the late 1920s, after the genocide in 1915, how the Spanish college received anti-franco refugees and how we received Afghans and Syrians. That is how we welcome Ukrainians as part of the Pause program, which has supported researchers and artists in exile since 2017, ” explains Jean-Marc Sauvé, President of the National Fund Cité Internationale Universitaire de Paris.

Virtual project, real help

Cité currently hosts about fifty Ukrainian students and researchers. “We are planning the arrival of other refugees in a continuous stream in the coming days and weeks. We also intend to be the focal point of their reception through Ile-de-France, while preparing favorable conditions for their return to Ukraine when peace returns. “ projects Jean-Marc Sauvé.

also read “We live with this despair of being powerless”: At Cité Internationale in Paris, Ukrainian students will feel useful

Although Cité International does not maintain special historical ties with the country and there is no Ukrainian house on campus, the institution had the idea of ​​filling this gap and imagining a virtual house in Ukraine, whose sales and invitations to donations will be used to house students. and researchers in the 43 pavilions on campus and to support those scattered in Île-de-France.

A controversial star architect

The Cité International called on one of the French stars, Jean-Michel Wilmotte, who volunteered to produce three works. “My project is a nod to the constructivist architecture specific to this region. It consists of a base of 2,000 square meters, dedicated to culture, with a dance hall, a restaurant and a space dedicated to start-ups, as well as apartments that look appears to be suspended above the base. ” Three NFTs, one from the outside of the building and two from the inside, will be sold until June 6 on the website maisondelukraine.fr. On June 8, the models and three lithographs by Sotheby’s will be auctioned off.

View of an apartment from Ukraine's virtual house.

Jean-Michel Wilmotte was the architect behind the Russian Orthodox Cathedral in Paris in 2007, which was controversial, and some saw it as a propaganda tool that Vladimir Putin wanted. “I do not deny this church, which represents Russian culture. If anyone is wild at the head of the Russian state, it is temporary and we hope that this side will soon be turned around.”

A first stone

If the aesthetics of the building are very abstract, like yellow and white spectral cubes placed on top of each other, for Jean-Michel Wilmotte, this project is only the beginning of a story. “This drawing may be the beginning of a house in Ukraine, if we find a piece of land, why not within the Cité international”, which is not a fixed place.

Since 2013, seven new buildings have been delivered, including the Korea House, the Second Tunisian Pavilion, the Francophonie Student House, the Ile-de-France House, etc. They will soon be joined by two new buildings, the China-Garden of Harmony Foundation and the Egypt House. , and the launch of a new house on the last vacant lot will be announced this year. But so far, Jean-Marc Sauvé refuses to commit further: ” It is too early. »

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