Secret corners of Paris: French communist party headquarters

Sladjana Perkovic | Live the World

November 23, 2022

The French communist party headquarters is probably the most unusual building in Paris. Different from anything you can see in the City of lights, this architectural pearl, is situated in north-east Paris, in 19th district, on the Colonel Fabien square, between the Buttes-Chaumont park, the Canal Villette and the Canal Saint Martin. Created by the Brazilian architect Oskar Niemeyer, this building is registered as a historical monument since 2007.

Futuristic command center

The man behind this building is the famous Brazilian architect Oskar Niemeyer, who created the entire Brasilia, Brazil’s modernist capital, from scratch and worked with Le Corbusier, internationally influential Swiss architect and city planner, on the United Nations headquarters in New York. He started working on the project of the new center for the French Communist Party, after he took refuge in France from the military coup in his country in 1964 and this is one of his rare European works. The building was inaugurated in 1971 and it was an astonishing futuristic command center.

Breathtaking cupola

When you find yourself in front of the French communist party headquarters, you can admire its spectacular undulating and completely glazed facade. Inside, it is all about raw concrete and formwork wood. The building is designed to stand on the five concrete pillars so that it seems to float above the ground. But the most interesting part of this building is probably the spectacular auditorium used as the meeting place for the members of the French communist party. Inside, the walls are all curved and light is diffused through thousands of white aluminum panels that hang from the ceiling and spread light uniformly, while brown leather chairs all face the white concrete podium at the front. The doors leading into the auditorium are pneumatically controlled. No wonder the building is classified as a historic monument since April 2007.

Prada fashion show

After the worst electoral results in the history of the French communist party during the French presidential elections in 2002, this party has been in decline. The financial problems forced the leaders of the Party to rent out the part of its headquarters to an architecture firm and an advertising agency. And the building was also used as a setting for Prada and Jean-Paul Gaultier fashion shows and Christian Dior and Louis Vuitton photo shoots.

Practical information

Unfortunately, the French communist party headquarters in Paris are open to visit only during the European Heritage Days (Les Journées européennes du patrimoine), every third weekend of September.

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