France: In Paris, the Dominicans starting a social project with “Habitat et Humanisme”

on 15 Apr, 2018
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Paris (France), 04/14/2018, La Croix.- An article of Youna Rivallain in La Croix on April 11th explains the new project for “Maison Saint Charles” in Paris. In the XVth arrondissement of Paris, the Congregation of the Dominican Sisters of the Presentation of Tours has joined with “Habitat & Humanisme” and “Vinci Immobilier” to give a second life for their house.

Maison Saint Charles (Paris)Maison Saint Charles (Paris)This social project in the line of the vocation of this ancient orphanage, was presented on Wednesday, April 11th. Maison Saint Charles, a sanctuary of green in the real heart of the hectic life of Paris in rue de Vaugirard in the 15th arrondissement, has always been considered by the residents as a harbor of peace and spirituality. Constructed in the middle of the 19th century to receive orphaned children following the epidemics, the house has accommodated for the past 150 years, the Congregation of the Dominican Sisters of the Presentation of Tours. Today, the buildings being old and damaged and the community « getting old », according to Sister Veronique Margron, superior provincial of the Congregation in France, she had to find a solution to keep the site of Maison Saint Charles.

The huge construction works
During a press conference, the veil on the future of the house was lifted, in the presence of Sister Véronique Margron, Bernard Usquin, president of Habitat et Humanisme, Île-de-France and Jean-Christophe Laurent, regional director of Vinci Immobilier. The construction work is gigantic. In the place of the house, 45 social housings, two shared intergenerational apartments and 15 guest rooms will be constructed and 3 600 m² of green space will be protected. At the end of the park, a prestigious residence will also be constructed. As for the chapel, it will be preserved, divided into two spaces: Halls for the meetings of the associations in the neighborhood and a space for prayer for the Sisters and residents.

To Turn a new page
“We hope to be able to turn a new page in the history of this place by making connections with new partners,” mentioned Sr. Veronique Margron. The Congregation is thus associated with Habitat et Humanisme to reflect on the possibilities for the “conversion” of Maison Saint Charles. “We have opted for an intergenerational house with a social character.” In 2013, the two partners had launched a contest for the renovation, which was won by Vinci Immobilier. Together, the three parties establish the project for the new house, managed by Habitat et Humanisme. Here then, persons with different ages, conditions and origins will rub shoulders with each other: 20 apartments will be reserved for the Congregation, 15 for students and young workers and 10 housings for single parent families, without counting the shared intergenerational apartments and guest rooms.

A long story of solidarity
“Maison Saint Charles has a long history of solidarity. This new stage is inscribed in continuity with the humanitarian project of this magnificent place,” declared Bernard Usquin from Habitat et Humanisme. “We wish to make it a place where there will be an intermingling of ages, histories and tendencies. This house has always been a place of welcome and it will continue to be the same,” added Sister Veronique Margron. In order to finance the work, the Congregation is committed to give away a part of its land in view of a real estate operation. The residence “Hors du Temps » will be constructed at the end of the park, welcoming the New Maison Saint Charles. “In order to preserve the gardens and the vegetation of the cloister, we have decided to construct a prefabricated residence so that the construction will be as light as it can be,” underlined Jean-Christophe Laurent of Vinci Immobilier..

During the time of the demolition and construction, the old sisters are placed in an EPHAD at Village Saint Michel, two steps away from their house. “It was difficult to leave from our house, some of us have lived here all our consecrated life,” acknowledged Sister Renée-Claude, who expressed her gratitude to Sister Veronique Margron for fighting for a project which is faithful to the spirit of the place.