District 93 in Paris: the New Style Stronghold

A 45 million euro project, a star architect, a spectacular building. We are not in Dubai or Tokyo, but in Aubervilliers, Paris. It is in this district of Seine-Saint-Denis that the prestigious fashion house Chanel is set to install its new major project in 2020: a brand new site that will group together the fifteen or so small and medium size enterprises belonging to the subsidiary Paraffection of the French company. But they are not just any small and medium size enterprises; these companies bring together the artistic professions, including traditional trades and crafts that enhance the prestige of the fashion house and whose know-how is all the more precious for being rare and fragile. The building will be home to the atelier of pleater Lognon, the bootmaker Massaro and the milliner Michel.

The selection of this location for a major creative hub may be surprising. However, it is only one of many recent examples of a mass movement taking place in the fashion and luxury industry, which consists in setting up premises in District 93, specifically in Aubervilliers and Pantin.

Hermes has had a presence there for several years. The luxury leather merchant initially set up several workshops in a post-industrial area redesigned by Rena Dumas in 1992. Then, when more space was needed, the luxury fashion house bought all the surrounding land with the idea of creating its great “City of Trades”. It is now a veritable island of glass and brick which stretches over the whole area from Hoche to Pantin and is home to about 1,500 employees.

District 93 in Paris: the New Style Stronghold

Hermes called upon RDAI Architecture to combine natural spaces, offices and workshops in this world dedicated to luxury, know-how and simplicity.

The planned development of Pantin, integrated into the Grand Paris project, offers urban layouts that are suitable for the comfort of employees, as well as students, with easy access to the capital. This is especially so as the mayor of the town and the territory of the “Great Eastern Development” have enthusiastically expressed their wish to contribute to the establishment of partners with various different entities in the fashion sector.

Esmod opens in Pantin

This is the reason why the famous school Esmod, the oldest fashion school in the world, has added its name to the list of prestigious fashion and luxury institutions that have chosen to set up shop in this sector. The school building is found at Avenue Jean Lolive, a stones throw from the Metro. It is a magnificent building built in the 1920s in a neo-Louis XIII style, spanning 3,500 square meters. It once housed the luxurious branch of the Bank of France. Esmod chose this place of architecture and memory for its new school. The sheer size of the building alone (approximately 600 square meters) allows for 23 course study rooms, welcoming all the students of Esmod’s business school, ISEM, and several ESMOD classes, allowing a healthy rivalry between students with complementary profiles.

District 93 in Paris: the New Style Stronghold

From an architectural viewpoint, it must be recognised that the building offers fantastic opportunities: around a brilliantly lit atrium sublimated by a partial mezzanine floor, adjustable rooms can host a variety of events. The luminous areas have been rethought and imagined by the architect Michel Naeye who has made every effort to offer students the best working conditions in a contemporary space combining functionality and ecology. Light is sovereign. Subsequently, a private garden, a dining room, a student resident and a gymnasium will be envisaged. The great hall of the Bank will be metamorphosed into a voluminous atrium that will be using as a living area, and one for hosting and putting on events. The vault rooms will become a room for multiple activities which will retain its original spirit: the safes will be left exposed to the public gaze, a reminder of the memories contained by the place. It is a reminder of the past certainly, but it is more especially a wager on the future.

Photos credits: Chanel, Esmod, dr


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