From Trump’s infrastructure plan in the United States and the German coalition agreement to the Spinetta report on rail transport or the recent revision of the Grand Paris Express schedule in France: now is the time for infrastructure investments. Even formerly reluctant states — one need only think of Germany — have converted to the urgent need to invest in infrastructure. Why now? The crystallization of multiple factors explains this enthusiasm: the conclusion of the 2008 crisis, which came to an end in 2015 in Europe; the availability of plethoric liquidities; the increasingly manifest decay of an infrastructure park inherited from 30 years of post-war economic growth; the ecological transition, already well underway as far as electricity is concerned, but still in its infancy in the field of transport; and, as always, the affirmation of the metropolitan fact, resulting in the continuous growth of large cities. “Infrastructure is back”: Act One.
12/19/2017 - Urban Snapshot Op-Ed
Each day, 16.7 million French residents travel an average 14.6 kilometers to get to their workplace. And their daily commute can’t seem to stop getting longer. Since 1999, the proportion of commutes below 10 kilometers has decreased, while that of 20- to 50-kilometer commutes has increased. While relevant to one of four French citizens, mobilities over intermediate distances remain the poor relative of mobility policies.
11/30/2017 - Urban Snapshot Op-Ed
10/31/2017 - Urban Snapshot Op-Ed
“Bikes pouring down”, “invasion”, “the big landing”, “the flood” … there is no shortage of superlatives to describe the new free-floating services that are already or will soon be developed in Zurich, Paris, Metz, Milan, Seattle or San Francisco. Gobee-bike, Ofo, LimeBike, Indigo Wheel or Bluegogo offer connected bikes that can be rented and returned anywhere in the city using a mere smartphone.
09/30/2017 - Urban Snapshot Op-Ed
On 22 September, in a short press release, London’s public transport authority Transport for London (TfL), locked Uber out of the city a few days only after it multiplied the cost of a private chauffeur license by a thousand. By deciding not to renew the Californian company’s right to operate after it expired on 30 September, TfL made a bold choice to deprive 3.5 million Londoners of the private hire trade service and to dispossess Uber of its largest European market. This decision, which Uber has since appealed, marks a turning point in a game where the company previously defined its own terms. Following London’s lead, New York City and San Francisco have announced they are now reflecting on ways to tighten their control over Uber.
08/31/2017 - Urban Snapshot Op-Ed
Houston flooded, water cuts imposed in Rome because of a drought unprecedented in 200 years: the media impact of disasters caused by the four elements is all the stronger as they affect cities. The collective imagination is struck to the point of not questioning the reality of shock images such as those of sharks swimming on what was previously a motorway or fuselages of aircraft emerging from an airport turned into a lake. Astronomical figures follow the images: these catastrophes, which are more frequent and powerful because of climate change, represent a very high reconstruction cost for cities and governments (estimates already assess Harvey's damage to tens of billions of dollars), not counting their indirect cost. Proof of the growing role that these disasters occupy in our societies, the financial speculation of insurance companies via catastrophe bonds has been breaking records for a decade.
07/31/2017 - Urban Snapshot Op-Ed
The controversy between Tesla and Space X’s flamboyant boss, Elon Musk, and Facebook founder and C.E.O., Mark Zuckerberg, about the dangers and opportunities born of artificial intelligence, is very much welcome. It signals that the giants of the new economy do not make up a monolithic block preoccupied only with bringing to life a new digital society, with no one ever stopping to consider the meaning of this ongoing revolution.
06/30/2017 - Urban Snapshot Op-Ed
“The imagination must take too much for thought to have enough.” By bringing together every year since 2008 people who think, design, direct, build, run, finance and love… the city, La Fabrique de la Cité aims, as Bachelard recommends, to stimulate multidisciplinary, innovative and prospective reflection about the future of our cities and metropolises.
05/30/2017 - Urban Snapshot Op-Ed
Facilitated mobility, simplified mobility, but locked mobility? Waze and others pledge to allow their users to “outsmart traffic” and to “make cities usable”. The new players of urban mobility have raised the hope of finally being to provide a quick solution to urban congestion problems, adaptable to any urban context.Yet, despite the accumulation of knowledge on congestion and the development of digital services aimed at explaining, optimizing and predicting traffic, congestion still plagues our cities in 2017 and is even increasing steadily.
04/28/2017 - Urban Snapshot Op-Ed
One can only feel energized by the latest study published by BCG and Ipsos on the expectations held by Europeans regarding mobility. Surely, Europeans spend a lot of time commuting (almost two hours a day); 65% of them still use their car to go to work/training; and 58% lament the congestion they must contend with during rush hour. And these are only averages: best not to be Greek if you don’t like spending time in transport (2.36 hours per day); and it is in fact in Greece that people most complain about congestion. In short: everything is stuck, polluted, and annoying. Nothing new here
03/31/2017 - Urban Snapshot Op-Ed
Was Haussmann a herald of the resilient, connected and user-centric smart city? That is the underlying question raised by Paris Haussmann – modèle de ville (“Paris Haussmann – Model for a City”), an exhibition showing at the Pavillon de l’Arsenal in Paris until 7 May 2017. In many aspects, the Haussmann-style city scores high on the sustainability report card.
02/23/2017 - Urban Snapshot Op-Ed
Buildings account for 40.6% of the EU's final energy consumption. Energy-efficient retrofits of buildings, particularly in the residential sector, are therefore a major lever in achieving the 27% energy efficiency target set at the European level by 2030. In Europe, all levels of governance - national, regional and communal - have already integrated these objectives and have even gone beyond.
11/30/2016 - Urban Snapshot Op-Ed
With over 7 million victims every year, air pollution is on a fast track to becoming the most salient health issue on the global level. Every passing day, urban dwellers breathe in particulate matter (PM), fine particles so dangerous that science still hasn’t found the threshold below which they no longer pose a sanitary risk. Beyond the invaluable cost of human lives, pollution also bears significant financial consequences: from lower life expectancy to the price of healthcare and absenteeism, the degradation of health caused by exterior and interior air pollution represents a yearly aggregate cost of 20 to 30 billion euros.
10/21/2016 - Urban Snapshot Op-Ed
Cities are magnetic, exerting their irresistible pull on people, ideas, and innovation alike. For a long time, these powers of attraction appeared the natural consequence of geographic advantages and political influence, economic vitality and cultural clout.
09/21/2016 - Urban Snapshot Op-Ed
Pokémon Go superimposed a new layer over tangible, preexisting public spaces. No one seems quite sure of the rules applicable to this virtual space, but there’s more: the game ignores, and thus challenges, the uses traditionally assigned to public spaces, as parks become hunting grounds, monuments turn into PokéStops, and the limits between private and public property are gleefully overlooked.
06/23/2016 - The Future of Public Spaces
How can urban data be used to reinvent public spaces? How can public spaces be redesigned in response to the needs of citizens? These were the questions explored this past 23 June by the Amsterdam Institute for Advanced Metropolitan Solutions (AMS) and La Fabrique de la Cité (partners since March 2016), at a “Public Urban Squares” workshop in Amsterdam’s FabCity.The workshop specifically examined the examples of Paris’ Place de la Nation and Amsterdam’s Weteringcircuit.
06/06/2016 - International seminar Boston
From 6 to 8 June, La Fabrique de la Cité is hosting its international seminar in Boston. This city has innovation in its DNA, is pioneering the use of big data for urban management, but is faced with the task of regaining its resilience to cope with the fact that it is particularly vulnerable to the effects of climate change. This concise overview looks at the challenges Boston faces today.
01/29/2016 - Which are the impacts of NICT and data on the city?
What are the opportunities for optimization of public services permitted by data ? How to improve the welfare of the inhabitants of cities and adapt to their needs through precise mapping and real-time data ? How to control and adjust the energy supply of cities, from an analysis of individual and collective consumption data and climate projections? # These are questions for which the city of Nancy provides interesting answers.
10/14/2015 - How can we make cities incubators for health?
The demographic growth of cities is making health a priority for mayors, architects, planners and all those who live in the urban environment, especially in Asia and the English-speaking world. So much so that today the question is no longer how we prevent cities from spoiling our health, but rather how to shape urban planning to benefit the lifelong wellbeing of citizens more effectively. "Cities are the root causes of many health problems, but they are also key to solving a number of these problems", says Jacob West, member of the Harvard Global Health Institute and former programme director for the London Health Commission. This paradox is even more noticeable in very large urban centres, where population concentration and the nature and intensity of economic activity impact directly on the quality of life enjoyed by citizens. Long neglected, the concept of wellbeing then becomes a key factor in the attraction of cities.
07/17/2015 - Understanding behavioural changes to keep transforming cities
A young, alternative, creative city. That is the reputation of Berlin, which attracts more than 40,000 new residents every year. As a laboratory experimenting with new ways of using the urban environment, Berlin is an inspirational example of citizen initiative, resource sharing and the expert use of digital tools and services for the benefit of the city.
06/01/2015 - How to create value in the city?
Digital marathons, the opening of urban spaces dedicated to creativity, new-generation business incubators… We take a closer look at the open innovation initiatives that are transforming cities into creative, collaborative laboratories dedicated to exploring new ways of working and producing services in the digital age.
03/30/2015 - Which are the impacts of NICT and data on the city?
La Fabrique de la Cité continues its study of the impact of data management on urban transformation. Five Chief Data Officers responded to La Fabrique de la Cité’s invitation to present current development projects in Boston, New York, Chicago, Pittsburgh and Los Angeles. We get to grips with how these cities are using data to become more efficient, invent new urban services and, as a result, provide greater transparency for their citizens.
Public transport is often praised for its efficiency in the centre of major cities. But it can also be an appropriate solution for facilitating mobility in outlying urban areas. In any case, this was the conclusion arrived at in the study carried out by Carbone 4 for La Fabrique de la Cité (The City Factory).
In the question of urban data, there are as many cities as models. Indeed, taking account of their particular historic, demographic and urban development context, all the cities at the cutting edge of the data field in Europe (Helsinki, Berlin, Barcelona, Bordeaux and Rennes) have implemented their own original strategy. So, what is urban data's potential for new urban services creation? Zoom on the innovative data processing initiatives of two cities, Lisbon and Lyon, whose representatives presented their work on Wednesday, December 3d at NUMA in Paris, during a La Fabrique de la Cité breakfast meeting.
La Fabrique de la Cité held its 2014 regional seminar in Lille on September 16th, where international urban actors discussed and exchanged on location strategies for city-scale development.
From 2 to 4 July, La Fabrique de la Cité/The City Factory held an international seminar in Lisbon. On the agenda was the issue of optimisation or how to regenerate and transform a city in spite of its financial, social and environmental constraints.
On Tuesday, June 10, La Fabrique de la Cité (The City Factory) organized a breakfast debate at the NUMA in Paris on the theme: “The impact of urban data on daily mobility.” It was an opportunity to discover the potential for our data in urban contexts, particularly through the examples of Rennes and Helsinki.
In the wake of La Fabrique de la Cité’s work on “Phoenix Cities” and the co-construction of cities, the “DIY Manifesto“ project by Hélène Bienvenu and Nora Mandray has captivated our attention. This web documentary features Detroit’s “Do It Yourself” movement through three urban fables that depict individual and group initiatives designed to improve daily life in the city. Urban agriculture, the development of co-habitats, mobility, and digital equality are some of the movement’s concerns.
Work-home commuting has become a major challenge for cities; accordingly, La Fabrique de la Cité (The City Factory) has decided to launch a series of meetings focusing on the issue of mobility in semi-urban areas.# Intermodality, grassroots innovation, informal transport systems and the use of information technology – do these considerations point to potential solutions for enhancing mobility for people living in semi-urban areas? Where can we find the inspiration and creativity needed to renew mobility and transport?# These are the questions which La Fabrique de la Cité has attempted to answer in two presentations: one by Brice Teinturier, Deputy Executive Director, Ipsos France, who has conducted a survey for VINCI Autoroutes to determine people’s attitudes with regard to daily commuting; and another by David Menascé, Executive Director of Azao and Professor at the HEC Social Business Chair, who brings an international perspective to the topic thanks to his analysis of informal transport systems in emerging countries.
Produce, consume, throw away: under the weight of social and environmental stresses, our consumerism is reaching its limits. Within the next thirty years, the world population will have increased by 2 million individuals, and if trends continue, we will need more than two Earths to support us - and of course we only have one. It has therefore become imperative to shift paradigms and move to circular economy, in order to use our resources most effectively.
On January 30 La Fabrique de la Cité (The City Factory) welcomed Philipp Rode, executive director of the London School of Economics’ Cities Programme, at a thematic breakfast debate on the adaptive strategies of the world’s cities and metropolises faced with climate change. This meeting was part of a reflective process initiated last year with the presentation of a study conducted in partnership with the OECD on funding green growth for cities.
Far from being a recent phenomenon, agriculture is making a comeback in our cities. This is a return to “fundamentals” that is welcomed by city dwellers. Also, in the view of urban planners and thinkers, city agriculture favours a more sustainable and smart urban-development model. Does urban agriculture really favour the sustainable development of urban spaces or should we adopt a more nuanced view of its benefits?
Le 10 décembre dernier, La Fabrique de la Cité a eu le plaisir d’ouvrir une nouvelle série de rencontres autour des enjeux de mobilité péri-urbaine. Ger Baron, Clustermanager IT à l’Amsterdam Economic Motor, a présenté l’expérience des « Smart work centers » (SWC), ces espaces de travail collaboratifs implantés depuis 2008 sur tout le territoire néerlandais.
Vehicle traffic congestion, new ways of working, urban sprawl, centre-periphery cleavage: the metropolis model as we know it today is undergoing many transformations. How can metropolises adapt to this change in mobility?
On October 16, La Fabrique de la Cité (The City Factory) organized its third meeting on issues related to the financing of urban infrastructure. Frédéric Blanc-Brude, Research Director at the EDHEC Risk Institute of Singapore, was our guest to debate the possibilities of matching the savings resources of certain investors (reinsurance companies, sovereign funds, pension funds, family offices) to urban infrastructure financing needs.
With the increase in world population, urbanization and energy requirements… how can cities contribute to halting energy demands, energy that is still primarily fossil fuel-based? What is the role of cities in energy transition (the objective being an energy efficient city based on renewable energy).
NICT (new information and communications technologies) are spearheading major change to our cities. They are a source of new practices and numerous innovations that hold great potential for creating value, and which decision-makers and companies are increasingly turning to when it comes to urban planning. Let’s take a look at some of the new key trends.
At La Fabrique de la Cité's 2013 international seminar held in Stockholm from 3 to 5 July, urban development leaders and players described experiments that create value in and for the city. A number of new ways to manufacture the city emerged during the seminar.
From July 1 to 7, the Centquatre hosts an exhibition and debates on Greater Paris and the housing issue. Fifteen multidisciplinary teams will present the results of their research and their proposals to meet a major challenge: how to create 70 000 housing units each year in Île-de-France. The Fabrique de la Cité (The City Factory), already studying the issue on Greater Paris, participated on drafting proposals with one of the teams headed by the SEURA agency.
To what extent does culture play a role in urban development? And how do you get citizens involved? These are the questions La Fabrique de la Cité plans to raise at the seminar in Marseille on April 12. An opportunity to examine how artistic communities, heritage, urban cultures, major equipment and cultural events can be vehicles for urban renewal and appeal.
La Fabrique de la Cité, one of whose fundamental principles is to bring international attention to major urban issues, mandated PwC to produce a study [to download] on the business models used recently to build or renovate a number of major rail stations. The findings of the study were presented by Richard Abadie, Global Infrastructure Leader at PwC, at a breakfast meeting held by La Fabrique de la Cité on March 12, 2013.
How do we involve city residents’ in cities’ energy transition? The WSC Partner City Meeting was held in Amsterdam from February 14 to 16, 2013 as part of the World Smart Capital initiative. The Meeting focused on the issue of involving citizens in projects designed to foster an energy transition. It also provides an opportunity for the City Factory to review innovative initiatives in this area.
Commissionning by The City Factory, on the sidelines of the seminar "building a shared city : how can we engage citizens?", Play the City had invited participants known for their political, community-based, cultural and economic commitments in Amsterdam for a serious game. The starting point was simple : everybody had to coordinate in order to contribute to the development of Overhoeks, an emblematic district in the North of Amsterdam.