|The origin of the housing
estate dates back to 1917. During the meeting of the municipality
council of 29 March, Edouart Herriot, Mayor of Lyon, announced the
creation of a boulevard from “La Guillotière” to
“Vénissieux”, that will be lined with housing for workers and
around which factories will be established.
To carry out the whole project, a public company for social housing
(Office public d’Habitations à Bon Marché) was created on
29 May 1920.
Construction works for the first three houses, called prototype houses,
lasted from December 1920 to 1925. In November 1923, Edouard Herriot
informed Tony Garnier that the buildings should be two storeys higher
than originally planned.
Tony Garnier fought for his project. He argued that raising the
building to five storeys would require the installation of elevators.
However the architect's resistance was in vain: in 1926 a new
regulation imposed the same format on every collective house for
workers: a ground floor and five storeys.
Tony Garnier's successive plans illustrate the evolution of his
project. On 5th January 1931, the final project was completed. The
buildings' official opening ceremony took place on 25 January 1934.
An exemplary rehabilitation
Man at the centre of the process
When the rehabilitation process of the social housing area began in
“Les Etats-Unis” in 1985, no one expected that it was going to be the
starting point of an internationally unique collaboration in urban
Its main asset ? Having decided to put man at the centre of the
process, by adopting a transversal approach to rehabilitation. The
rehabilitation process is not only technical, but also human, social
Beyond the buildings and public spaces, all the inhabitants of the
« Cité Tony Garnier » were altered by this adventure.
Reasons for its success
The social organisation: :
In the 1980s, “Cité Tony Garnier” was still a “village”,
isolated in the middle of an area that continued to expand. Its
inhabitants had known each other for a long time. They shared the same
culture, formed by their working class origin, years spent in the
resistance during World War 2 and the isolation of the area until 1959
when the creation of “boulevard des Etats-Unis” finally took place. In
1983, they created the Tenants Committee which played a key role in the
decision to regenerate Tony Garnier’s buildings and create an urban
Thanks to this new policy, launched in 1986 by the Central Government,
additional financial resources were allocated to “sensitive” urban
areas. “Les Etats-Unis” district being classified as a “sensitive”
area, the buildings public owner (OPAC du Grand Lyon) was able to raise
enough funds from Central Government and Local Governments
(Région Rhône-Alpes, Conseil Général du
Rhône, Grand Lyon et Ville de Lyon) to cover the cost of the
rehabilitation process: € 43 millions over 12 years.
An unexpected encounter: In February 1988, between inhabitants
of “Cité Tony Garnier” and artistes from
“Cité de la Création”. It was at the
origin of the project. The artists conceived the urban museum
and transformed this original idea into a concrete achievement.
recognition from UNESCO: :
Obtained in 1991, the “World Decade for Cultural Development” Prize
brought international recognition to the project, and paved the way for
the creation of six international murals. Several private partners
joined the project at this stage (Caisse d’Epargne Rhône-Alpes,
EDF-GDF Lyon Métropole, Peintures ZOLPAN et Vinylit). In 1994,
they received an award for supporting the project: Oscar du
Mécénat / Prix Télérama, awarded by ADMICAL
(a non profit organization in charge of promoting private support to
cultural, social and environmental non profit activities).
Exceptional women and men : : It is thanks to the commitment of exceptional women and men, during
more than 10 years, whether as inhabitants of “Cité
Tony Garnier”, artists, “OPAC du Grand Lyon”
staff members, civil servants, politicians, journalists or
writers, that this “mad” project was born and
From “Ancient States” to “Cité Tony Garnier”
On 28 August 1993, the “Ancient States” area – the name given to the
housing estate built by Tony Garnier since the 1960s– was renamed
“Cité Tony Garnier", at the request of the Tenants Committee.
This new name is the symbol of the transformations carried out and of
the area's new image in the city of Lyon: one of a place where life is
pleasant, and far from the traditional disturbing image generally
associated with suburbs.
The most impressive achievements of these 12 years are the
- Rehabilitation of 1,568 flats ,
and 49 buildings.
Rehabilitation works carried out focused mainly on the façades,
installation of new doors and windows, creation of bathroom,
installation of elevators.
- Re-development of publics spaces
(courtyards, gardens, pavements…), with the installation of new
flooring, planting of gardens, development of squares and publics
- PIMMS Creation
(Point d’Information Multi Média Services) to assist inhabitants
when approaching public administrations and companies.
- Creation of new category of cultural centre: Tony Garnier Urban Museum.