The First Projects

plaWalking along the Rue Jeanne d’Arc in the 13th arrondissement it would be easy to pass by a genuine piece of social history without noticing anything exceptional. At number 45, directly opposite the quaint and attractive houses of the Villa Auguste Blanqui, stands the first social housing project built in the city, a collection of small apartments which were paid for by a man of fortune to house the unfortunate.

bricksA plaque on the front of the building shows that it was run by an organisation called the Societé Philanthropique (who still manage the building today), and the city of Paris have helpfully put a sign in the street outside giving an outline of the story, but what is most striking about the structure is the rough brickwork of the facade. This is social housing at its most basic, clean and functional accommodation, but devoid of any decorative features that may have encouraged the poor to stay a little too long.

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