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Our town : Villeurbanne

The INSA IGEM team is not actually in Lyon but in Villeurbanne, which is a city on the outskirts of Lyon. In fact, the school is located on the Doua campus of Villeurbanne.
The city counts about 144 000 inhabitants distributed on an area of approximately 15 km². Historically a workers' suburb of Lyon, Villeurbanne is nowadays an academic and working class city.
But let us introduce our wonderful city :

The history of Villeurbanne

Villeurbanne joined the France Kingdom in 1355. The expansion of the city was limited by the frequent floods due to the Rhone river until 1837, when dykes started being used as water defences. Starting with the 1789 Revolution, the city was integrated to the department of Isere and joined the Rhone department only in 1852. At that time, the city refused its unification with the city of Lyon but was forced to give away a part of the famous "Parc de la Tete d'Or".

During the Industrial European Revolution of the XIXth century, Villeurbanne knew a quick industrial development. However, when World War I broke out, the working force went missing, so women and immigrants were called in to fill in the positions not only in the city, but in the whole country.
During World War II, Villeurbanne and Lyon were a strategic area. Lyon was situated on the borderline between Nazi-occupied area and unoccupied area by Germany. Lyon and Villeurbanne provided a home for great figures of the French resistance and, above all, provided the headquarters for the printing of resistance newspapers. A lot of the resistance fighters were caught in Lyon due to their activity in the printing of newspapers and were killed in Villeurbanne, on the current campus, which was at that time a military area.
In August 1944 the city was freed by an insurrection. Nonetheless, 3 days later, the German took the city back but it was eventually liberated by the troops of the Provence landings a couple of days later.
Since 1960, the factories and small properties began being replaced by buildings hosting the middle class.

Monuments and culture

Festivals and events

Throughout the year lots of events are organised in Villeurbanne. For example, in Mars there is an Iberian and Latino-american film festival called "Refets du Cinéma ibérique et latino-américain" and for the sportive ones a foot race.
In may, the "24 heures de l'INSA de Lyon" is an event not to be missed under any circumstances! For a all night and day week end a lot of free different activities are proposed : concerts, funny games, 24 hour long races, dances, massage, board games and even bungee jumping. Moreover, anyone between 7 and 77 can participate!
In November, when the cold comes, you can go to the Short Film Festival and enjoy the movies !


A little story..

The Théâtre National Populaire (TNP), National People's Theatre, was founded in 1920 by Firmin Gémier in Paris. It has been located in Lazard-Goujour square in the Villeurbanne's Skyscrapers district since 1972, instead of the city's Theatre.
This dramatic national center managed to implant in the region of Lyon a standing creation theatre. We remember the national and international theatre tours of the Three Musketeers, Tartuffe, Henry IV...
It has certainly contributed to the creation, but also to the production and the hosting of other plays that are performed all around France. Besides, it has its own set construction workshop. It is one of the first theatres with its own development strategy, making it a real "theater company". Even though with tickets at affordable prices, attracting at least 2500 people every night is a real challenge.
Indeed, the primary goal of the TNP is to offer quality plays, accessible to as many people as possible. This means meeting directly public's expectations by developing a special communication policy.
The TNP is a symbolic theater, symbolic by its acronym, by its act, by its history and by the men who have imposed it.
Media library
In the late '80s, a media library, called "Maison du livre, de l'image et du son", was built according to Mario Botta's plans.
The Rize
The Rize, a research and cultural museum, opened its doors in 2008. It contains a representative collection of municipal files, a media library and provides spaces for cultural and educational activities.
The skycrapers ("les gratte-ciel")
Built during the early 30s, "The Skycrapers" stand up amongst fields strewed with houses and factories. It is a neighborhood with giant vertical buildings, a very peculiar architecture for a population used to buildings with less than five floors.
Meant to shelter social and workers' housing, these skyscrapers were inspired by several European and North American influences. In fact, the agglomeration of Lyon had successful economic relationships with the North-Eastern industrial regions of the USA at the end of the XIXth century.
Being the first European construction of residential buildings of this height, it captivated the specialists at that time. Moreover, its construction during the Great Depression makes it even more unique.
However, this new modern district (and even futurist at that time) is not only a architectural curiosity, but also an assertion of the identity of Villeurbanne. Synonymous of social breakthrough and political affirmation, the Skycrapers district represents for the population the true symbolic center of the city. It shows that Villeurbanne is a separate town from Lyon and finally ends the intents of geopolitical attachment between the two cities.
Modern Art
If you have an artistic spirit or if you just want to see how modern art looks like, Villeurbanne and its Institute and Museum of Contemporary Art is made for you. Villeurbanne has also a Metropolitain Center of Urban Art since 2002 : "Les Ateliers Frappaz". In collaboration with the city's cultural departement, the Museum organises in mid-June a free music and street art festival called "Les Invites de Villeurbanne".
As you can imagine, Villeurbanne is not only a cultural city but also a sportive one. As the latin saying goes, "Mens sana in corpore sano" ("a sound mind in a healthy body"),Villeurbanne inhabitants can use both brains and body.
In order to illustrate Villeurbanne has nighty-nine stadiums, thirteen sport rooms, four areas for playing boules, three swimming pools, five climbing walls ande more than two hundred sports clubs. One of the most important and perhaps the best known is the ASVEL club (l'Association sportive de Villeurbanne Éveil lyonnais), especially its basket section.
Founded in 1948, the Basketball club of ASVEL competes in Pro A, the elite French championships. It is the French club with the most enviable prize list : it has been champion of France 17 times.
The ASVEL has several great players. The best known are Alain Gilles (from 1965 to 1992) and Delaney Rudd (from 1995 to 2001). In 2009, the famous NBA player in the France team Tony Parker was signed to the club of Villeurbanne. Moreover, he is the newly appointed director in charge of basketball operations.

Campus de la Doua

La Doua is an ancient word used to designate a basin, a fountain, a wash house or a small watercourse.


The campus of La Doua was created in 1957 and it covers 100 acres.
The place used to house a military training camp named Grand Camp which took the place's name and became the Doua barrack. For many years during the XIXth century it hosted the cavalry before the transition to the armored army.
During the German occupation of the Second World War, it was used as an execution camp. In September 1945, 77 resistant fighters' corpses were founded near a knoll known today as "the shot knoll". In 1957 the national necropolis of La Doua was built around the campus. It is a military cemetery, which is still standing nowadays in front of the INSA's buildings.


Founded in 1957 by Gaston Berger and the rector Capelle, INSA was at first a school meant for senior engineers and technicians, but it quickly became an engineering school only.
Its uniqueness was to enroll student straight after their Baccalauréat (equivalent of A level) and not after a two-year-preparatory class like the other French engineering schools. The purpose was to allow students from working and middle classes to do great studies at low cost.
Since the beginning, the school has been developed on a sharing and exchange policy. That's why it invests a lot in the boarding school and in the support of associations. Nowadays INSA counts more than 100 associations (sport, music, charity, culture,...).
The first promotion counted 300 students. Nowadays, it has more than 4500 engineering students of each 1400 graduate each year. INSA is no more a single school but a group of five schools located in Lyon, Strasbourg, Rennes and Rouen. However, Lyon is not only the oldest, but also the largest.

The Lyon university is organised around 9 departements :
- Civil engineering and urbanism
- Biological engineering (subdivided in modelisation/ bioinformatics and biochemistry/ biotechnologies)
- Electrical engineering
- Computer sciences
- Material sciences and engineering
- Mechanical engineering
- Engineering systems and managements
- Telecommunications and network engineering
- Environmental and energy engineering

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