The chapel of the former Collège Saint-Joseph in Lille, built at the end of the 19th centurye century in an eclectic style, is the property of JUNIA (ex-Yncrea), great engineering school, member of the University and Multidisciplinary Federation of Lille (known as «the Catho»). Disused for many years and in a very degraded state, it was the subject of a demolition permit issued by the mayor of Lille, as part of the redevelopment project of the college site intended to accommodate part of the new campus of JUNIA. This demolition permit was accompanied by prescriptions of the architect of the buildings of France in terms of conservation and reuse of certain movable elements.
The prospect of this demolition aroused a certain emotion and led opponents of the project to ask the Ministry of Culture for the opening of a classification body for the historic monuments of the building, which would have legally resulted in the suspension, for one year, from the construction site, while the competent authorities decide on the advisability of a final classification of the building.
After a thorough study of the file and many discussions with the project leader, the Ministry of Culture considered that the conditions for a pending classification of the chapel were not met:
- First, it noted the impossibility of integrating, at the present stage of its development, the conservation of the Saint-Joseph chapel in the redevelopment project of this property, which will eventually increase the capacity of the new campus from 5,000 to 8,000 students. Abandoning the demolition of the chapel would therefore mean abandoning an important project for the development of higher education, which represents an investment of 120 million euros;
- then, it appeared to him that the heritage interest of the chapel was not sufficient to justify, at the end of the classification proceeding, a definitive classification: so that if the classification pending had been decided, This would have just extended the deadline by one year, without allowing us to “save” the building. The project leader has also undertaken to deposit and reuse elements of the Saint-Joseph chapel, including stained glass windows, in connection with the initial prescriptions of the architect of the buildings of France and the exchanges that continued at the initiative of the Ministry of Culture.
- Finally, and this last argument seemed to him decisive, the new campus project integrates the complete restoration, with the help of the State, of the Rameau palace, a building classified as historical monuments, currently without use and whose condition is very degraded. The Palais Rameau will be the subject of an emphyteutic lease granted by the city of Lille and will become a demonstrator of urban agriculture open to the public. During the discussions that took place in recent weeks, the Ministry of Culture obtained from the project leader that it significantly strengthens the scope of the restorations and the valorization of the place. Abandoning this project would also mean abandoning the restoration and reuse of this historic monument.
It is for these reasons that the Ministry of Culture has chosen not to open a filing instance on this chapel.