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Science or heritage?  A quarrel in the Pavillon de Source (confusion…)

Science or heritage? A quarrel in the Pavillon de Source (confusion…)

Yes, it's the story of a perfectly legal real estate project turned into a philosophical political affair!

Because this morning, residents near the Curie Institute in the Latin Quarter were supposed to wake up to the sound of excavators. The Pavillon des Sources (approved by a permit issued in March), a small two-story brick building where two-time Nobel laureate Marie Curie stored raw materials useful for her research, was scheduled to be demolished. Today the place is inaccessible, because it is polluted.

Instead, the Curie Institute wants to build a 2,000-square-meter laboratory, on 5 floors, the first in the world to combine chemistry and biology to fight cancer. On paper, an exciting project that will put France at the forefront of research, as it was 100 years ago thanks to Marie Curie.

So, what is the controversy about?

Should we demolish even a piece of heritage for the sake of advancing science?

Pavilion, a source of confusion… small in size (Marie Curie was not often present), but so large in symbolism that the government intervened by issuing a decree (this was on a Friday after a meeting with the Minister of Culture) to stop the work.

In other words: neither destroy nor build, it's time to see if we can do different, and better, to reconcile the heritage of yesterday with the science of tomorrow, perhaps by ceding a building or public land, elsewhere, to accommodate the laboratory of the future…

So everything was paused. Precautionary principle. We would not be here if the former president's heritage advisor, Stephane Berne, the leader of the Parisian right, Rachida Dati, and a group of feminist scholars had not surrendered…

Were they right in your opinion?

Stefan Bern is very strong in favor of the heritage lottery, but we would also like to have a scientific and research lottery!

Should the obsession with ancient stones affect our ability to look forward?

Even Marie Curie's descendants contradict each other about the fate that will be reserved for the Pavillon des Sources, a non-essential part of the three buildings that make up the institute.

And Marie Curie herself, what will she say today? Is it better to think about the shrine or to keep searching and passing the torch over and over again?

In “museum” Paris, which is losing its population, does the Institut Curie become irrelevant when it wants to attract the best researchers? Isn't this the most beautiful tribute to the woman who discovered (with her husband) radium? Furthermore, the barn in which this discovery was made was destroyed in 1914. Is this so important…

Stephane Berne tells us that “we cannot demand the cultural and intellectual rearmament of France, and the destruction of what constitutes its memory and its pride.” But I tell him that we cannot want the scientific rearmament of France while always looking back!

Because that is the greatest political temptation of the moment: passion in the rearview mirror, celebrating one's pantheon, convincing oneself that France was better than before!

However, the President promised in his wishes to involve France “in major advanced projects (…), so that in 2027 we will be ten years ahead, while in 2017 we were ten years behind.” »

beautiful girl! But a moratorium is not the way to make up for lost time.