A social palace for workers

A social palace for workers


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  • Schoolchildren in the inner courtyard of the Familistère Social Palace.

    ANONYMOUS

  • The Familistère de Guise seen from the southwest: the central pavilion, the left wing and the commissaries.

    ANONYMOUS

  • View of the city, the Familistère and the Godin factory from the castle of the Dukes of Guise.

    ANONYMOUS

  • Portrait of Jean-Baptiste-André Godin.

    ANONYMOUS

To close

Title: Schoolchildren in the inner courtyard of the Familistère Social Palace.

Author : ANONYMOUS (-)

Creation date : 1896

Date shown: 1896

Dimensions: Height 12 - Width 17

Technique and other indications: photography

Storage place: Municipal Museum of Guise website

Contact copyright: © Guise museum collection / Guise Familistère

Picture reference: 1976-01-078

Schoolchildren in the inner courtyard of the Familistère Social Palace.

© Guise museum collection / Guise Familistère

To close

Title: The Familistère de Guise seen from the southwest: the central pavilion, the left wing and the commissaries.

Author : ANONYMOUS (-)

Creation date : 1865

Date shown: 1865

Dimensions: Height 13.5 - Width 22

Technique and other indications: photography

Storage place: Municipal Museum of Guise website

Contact copyright: © Guise museum collection / Guise Familistère

Picture reference: 1976-01-015

The Familistère de Guise seen from the southwest: the central pavilion, the left wing and the commissaries.

© Guise museum collection / Guise Familistère

To close

Title: View of the city, the Familistère and the Godin factory from the castle of the Dukes of Guise.

Author : ANONYMOUS (-)

Creation date : 1865

Date shown: 1865

Dimensions: Height 9.6 - Width 16

Technique and other indications: photography

Storage place: Municipal Museum of Guise website

Contact copyright: © Guise museum collection / Guise Familistère

Picture reference: 1976-01-014

View of the city, the Familistère and the Godin factory from the castle of the Dukes of Guise.

© Guise museum collection / Guise Familistère

To close

Title: Portrait of Jean-Baptiste-André Godin.

Author : ANONYMOUS (-)

Creation date : 1879

Date shown: 1879

Dimensions: Height 13 - Width 8,8

Technique and other indications: photography

Storage place: Municipal Museum of Guise website

Contact copyright: © Guise museum collection / Guise Familistère

Picture reference: 1976-01-008

Portrait of Jean-Baptiste-André Godin.

© Guise museum collection / Guise Familistère

Publication date: March 2016

Historical context

Industry did not, in 19th century Francee century, upset the urban framework. However, in certain localities, in Le Creusot or Mulhouse, in Roubaix or in mining towns, industrialization has led to a very sharp increase in the number of working families, and this has not gone without sometimes dramatic housing difficulties.

In this context, various experiences of employer housing developed. Among the latter, the case of the Guise familistère, built by the industrialist Jean-Baptiste Godin, is quite original, because it does not envisage the isolation of the working family in the single-family house which remains the ideal of working-class housing estates. , but intends to promote social relations within the framework of a collective habitat which he calls “social palace”. His portrait, his clothes (the soft collar, for example), are more that of a free spirit than of an industry baron.

A locksmith worker, in 1840 he invented an enamelled cast iron stove whose distribution was to be a great success. In 1865, the original workshop had grown into a large factory employing over 300 workers. Two years later, they will be more than 900.

Image Analysis

A member of the Fourierist Societal School since 1843, the one who has become a prosperous industrialist intends to give workers the "equivalents of wealth" in the fields of housing, hygiene, culture and education.

After several failed attempts at the Societe School, especially in Texas, he decided to build a familistere, inspired by the Fourierist phalanstery. The pragmatism that characterizes him is reflected in the evolutionary plan he is developing for the social palace. In 1865, two of the three buildings were built, the left wing and the central pavilion; the right wing was not completed until 1879.

Thus, away from the old nucleus of the village, a complex is formed which houses more than 1,300 people, or one inhabitant in six of Guise on the eve of the First World War. The difference between "those of the familistere" and "those of the city" is all the more marked as the former benefit from advantages and amenities that the latter do not. The accommodations have comfort and hygiene conditions far above the standard. Godin himself lives in the familistere, as do the factory framing or the cast iron molders.

The inner courtyard is the geometric place in the life of familistériens, it hosts Sunday balls, the annual feasts of work and childhood. Its technical device sums up the requirements of hygiene: the glass roof supported by a wooden frame (span of 40 × 20 m for the central pavilion) dispenses the light; ventilation is provided by a ventilation circuit: the alignment of the air vents between the partially closed glass roof and the cellars is clearly visible on the courtyard floor to the right. Cleanliness is ensured by garbage chutes (“sweeping traps”, says Godin) and sanitary blocks installed in the angles where the stairs also arrive. The balconies give access to the apartments - each door leads to a small vestibule which opens onto two apartments -, and each of them has windows to the outside and to the courtyard: always the principle of air circulation ...

The windows may seem sinister, we saw a similarity with the prison model. But there is a desire here to make the world of work escape the vagaries of the climate, to allow children and their parents to escape the rain and the cold, which is in line with the Phalansterian model.

Interpretation

In 1871, when the Paris Commune came to an end in blood and symbolized the violence of the class struggle, Godin published Social solutions, a book that condemns the civil war and explains in detail how to achieve the association of capital, labor and talent according to Fourierist precepts. The book is a true manual of the ideal industrial city, both from the point of view of housing, education and hygiene.

Its author sends it to many libraries around the world, convinced that its reading would multiply the followers of the familistérienne solution and that in the XXe century the construction of hundreds of "social palaces" would allow the establishment of universal concord.

  • architecture
  • workers city
  • Fourierism
  • hygiene
  • workers
  • industrial Revolution
  • Second Empire
  • socialism
  • campaign
  • working class

Bibliography

Annick BRAUMAN et al., Jean-Baptiste André Godin, 1817-1888, Le familistère de Guise or the equivalents of wealth, second revised and enlarged edition, catalog of the Brussels-Paris exhibition, archives of Modern Architecture - Center national d'Art et de culture Georges-Pompidou, 1980.

COLLECTIVE, Le Familistère Godin à Guise, Living in Utopia, Paris, Editions de la Villette, coll. "Thinking Space", 1982.

Henri DESROCHE, The Festive Society: from written Fourierism to practiced Fourierisms, Paris, Seuil, 1975.

Jean-Baptiste André GODIN, Social solutions, presentation and notes by Jean-Luc PINOL and Jean-François REY, reflections by René RABAUX, administrator-manager of the familistère from 1933 to 1954, Quimperlé, Éditions La Digitale, 1871, reprint. 1979.

To cite this article

Jean-Luc PINOL, "A social palace for workers"


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