© Raphaaëlle Saint-Pierre
Save the Foyer Maurice Ravel
By Jacques Kalisz, Nanterre, France, 1978

Docomomo International would like to draw your attention to the alarming situation of the Foyer Maurice Ravel, Nanterre, France, and express its full support to all the initiatives conducted in order to preserve this building.

A remarkable place, located between Nanterre and La Defense, which since 1979 has welcomed hundreds of student-musicians from around the world, enrolled in the most prestigious music schools and conservatories in Ile de France. Its Auditorium was not only a work and rehearsal space for residents, but it also hosted many music festivals between 1979 and 1990 where great musicians played.

Design by Jacques Kalisz, the architect develops duplex units so as to make the different ones independent life and work functions, and in particular the practice of the instrument, thus offering a rare collection of artist workshops exclusively dedicated to musicians. Each of the units of housing is designed as an independent volume whose assembly and juxtaposition generate various masses, interconnected and served by horizontal and vertical circulations in the open air. The composition seems to come from a playful logic of construction and has a great plastic force which was further accentuated by the original polychromy. It presents itself as an overlapping of cubic volumes on five levels. The cells, set back or cantilevered, create a varied set of full and empty and sometimes seem to hang in the air. There are two types of spaces that are cubic, depending on the case, with one or two corner windows. These choice of location promote meetings, while preserving everyone’s privacy, and allow students to live like in a village. This program is generously completed by a series of facilities such as a nightclub, library, listening room, butalso a concert hall with acoustic qualities recognized by Olivier Messiaen and other musicians of the 20th century, including Bernard Calmel, Yvan Chiffoleau, Jean-Michel Ferran, Michel Benhaïem.

For at least fifteen years, degraded and unmaintained, the Auditorium has no longer been open to the use of musicians and the public. The owner has abandoned the building for years. After having refused its protection as historic monuments and then the label “remarkable contemporary architecture” proposed by the DRAC and having inflated the costs of rehabilitation works, everything suggests that the lessor has decided to play the speculation card, to rid of a heritage heritage, human, social and cultural.

The living and working conditions of the musicians are unbearable. “This winter was the hardest, without central heating, without electricity and without hot water” says a lyric singer who had to cancel her performances because she was voiceless. “The owner voluntarily lets the foyer degrade to put pressure on us,” says a concert pianist.

This place of musical culture and architectural quality must be preserved, rehabilitated and again open to the public and to all musicians. The Amicale CNL of the musicians of the Foyer Maurice Ravel asks that the living and working conditions of the musicians at the Home be dignified.

Through their concerts, collaborations with the Conservatory of Music of Nanterre and through the active participation of musicians in the cultural life of Nanterre (charity, educational and voluntary concerts) they are actors of music in the city. With the closure and demolition of the foyer, it’s a whole cultural heritage, international artistic exchanges and an architectural monument that will disappear irreversibly.

Open letter: LETTRE OUVERTE YCHE 31 JANVIER Président CDC HABITAT SOCIAL.pdf [French]

To sign the petition, please click here. [French]