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Past, Les Grands Voisins, Vacant building, Cafes and restaurants, Camping, Social hosting, Paris, Built site, Third places of solidarity

Les Grands Voisins Paris Publiée le 01.10.20

In a few words

Avenue Den­fert-Rochere­au in Paris. The Saint-Vin­cent de Paul Hos­pi­tal clos­es its doors and the city takes over the site to devel­op new hous­ing; before work begins, there is a laten­cy peri­od of sev­er­al years. So, a thought emerges: “how can a four-hectare, tem­porar­i­ly avail­able site in the heart of Paris be used bold­ly and gen­er­ous­ly?” It is exact­ly this ques­tion on which the project Les Grands Voisins was built. The emp­ty premis­es of the for­mer hos­pi­tal were first used to host the home­less, who were lat­er joined by crafts­men, asso­ci­a­tions and young orga­ni­za­tions who came to set up their work­shops and offices with­in its walls. We then opened the site to the pub­lic, offer­ing fam­i­ly and sports facil­i­ties, a camp­site, restau­rant ser­vices, a con­fer­ence room, cul­tur­al activ­i­ties and artis­tic pro­gram­ming. The project quick­ly became a des­ti­na­tion, a live­ly spot where social, pro­duc­tive, com­mer­cial and cul­tur­al activ­i­ties cohab­it­ed with excit­ing inten­si­ty. When the future devel­op­ers arrived on-site, they too were impressed and pro­posed that the project be extend­ed as long as pos­si­ble, con­tin­u­ing to oper­ate in par­al­lel with the new con­struc­tion work. They could see how the social vital­i­ty pro­duced by Les Grands Voisins con­tributed direct­ly to their urban devel­op­ment mis­sion.

 The project Les Grands Voisins marked a turn­ing point in the his­to­ry of the asso­ci­a­tion. The size of the site allowed us to express the full range of our exper­tise, the team expand­ed, we set up the cen­tral bar La Lin­gerie to finance our work and activ­i­ties, we began to pay our­selves salaries, we dis­cov­ered social work and built a rela­tion­ship of trust with our part­ners Aurore and Plateau Urbain.

Key information

2015 — 2020

Own­ers of the site
Paris & Métro­pole Amé­nage­ment, City of Paris (for­mer­ly Assis­tance Publique des Hôpi­taux de Paris, then Etab­lisse­ment Pub­lic Fonci­er d’Île-de-France)

In num­bers
60 hours per week open to the pub­lic
Four mil­lion euros per year for the joint oper­a­tional bud­get

Sea­son 1:
20,000 m² of build­ing space and 15,000 m² of out­door space, 250 orga­ni­za­tions installed on the premis­es, 600 shel­ter beds, 4,000 vis­i­tors per day

Sea­son 2:
10,000 m² of build­ing space and 3,500 m² of out­door space, 140 orga­ni­za­tions, 100 shel­ter beds, 1 dai­ly recep­tion for asy­lum seek­ers, 4,000 vis­i­tors per day.


Asso­ci­a­tion Aurore
Site man­age­ment, emer­gency accom­mo­da­tion, day care for asy­lum seek­ers, inte­gra­tion through employ­ment.

Plateau Urbain
Choice and man­age­ment of occu­pants of the premis­es and ani­ma­tion of their net­work, tech­ni­cal coor­di­na­tion.

Paris & Métro­pole Amé­nage­ment
Devel­op­er of the city of Paris, own­er of the site.

Points to remember

  • The soci­etal util­i­ty pro­duced from the pos­si­bil­i­ty of tem­porar­i­ly occu­py­ing decom­mis­sioned spaces in dense city cen­tres free of charge: emer­gency shel­ters, social work, low-cost work spaces, etc.
  • The devel­op­ment of ways and means for cit­i­zen involve­ment at the neigh­bour­hood lev­el.
  • The build­ing of a cul­tur­al des­ti­na­tion with a mul­ti­tude of artis­tic expe­ri­ences, open and acces­si­ble to the great­est num­ber of peo­ple.
  • The inspir­ing demon­stra­tion of a tem­po­rary for­mat as proven through expe­ri­ence.
  • The rich­ness and respon­sive­ness of an eco­nom­ic mod­el led joint­ly by three orga­ni­za­tions from dif­fer­ent pro­fes­sion­al fields.
  • The resilience of the mod­el and its adapt­abil­i­ty to con­tem­po­rary changes and crises.

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