Establishment of ENSAIT
In 1876, Roubaix’s Municipal Council, eager to satisfy the wishes of the local population by providing specific educational services tailored to the needs of an industrial city (Roubaix had been the textile capital for many years), decided to create an establishment intended to bring together public courses, academic schools (weaving, art) along with their collections, the Museum of Art and Industry and the library in a centrally located position; all of these had been previously scattered throughout the city.
At the same time, the French government hoped to establish a textile school in order to meet the needs of industry. The government decided to assist the city of Roubaix; the school would therefore become a national institution.
The Ecole Nationale d’Arts Industriels (ENAI) was officially established under the Law of 5 July 1881 and an agreement was signed in 1882 between the French government and Roubaix. The building of the school was then entrusted to the French architect Dutert, the inspector for the teaching of art in the Nord region, who had supported this project for several years. ENAI became known as ENSAIT in 1921.
Ferdinent DUTERT, ENSAIT's architect
Charles Louis Ferdinand Dutert, who was born in Douai in
1845 and died in Paris in 1906, was the architect of the school. He became
highly regarded towards the end of the 19th Century.
He completed many projects in northern France (hospitals, churches),
where he was made Government Architect in 1882.
The dual purpose building, serving as both a public library and a training centre, was unusual for this time. Its geographical location within the same building as the school was chosen for its central location, making it directly accessible to the public. It was, however, set at a distance from noisy workshops.
After the Second World War, Roubaix’s library was relocated
to rue du château. ENSAIT’s library ceased to function in 1975, after being
damaged by fire.