How can an urban renovation program in a deprived neighborhood tackle poverty?
At Fives, the closure of the metallurgic “Fives Cail Babcock” company in 2001 has been a tremendous shock for the population. Once carried up by the industrial fleuron, the neighborhood has dramatically declined. With more than 20% unemployment rate (mostly long term); half of the population lives under the poverty level. Young people (half of population is under 30) can meet little job opportunity in the surroundings.
An ambitious urban renovation project has started in 2015 in order to transform the 20 hectares of industrial brownfield into an original pattern of housing and activities. Though urban projects can offer new services, new public spaces, and social mixity, rarely or never the gentrification process is addressed from the start. Rarely the existing population can benefit directly from the new activities brought by.
In Fives, following difficulties were pointed:
- Seclusion, lack of social interactivity;
- Health problem;
- Lack of training and job opportunities;
- Loss of pride.
In order to tackle most of these issues, Lille will create an innovative device: a collective kitchen that articulates various actions towards the district’s population:
1. Providing a shared space to socialize. There you may cook, eat, meet people, and make new experiences (including an audio-visual studio, and a vertical agriculture demonstrator);
2. Organizing workshops, mostly against waste and malnutrition;
3. Creating a virtuous ecosystem of training and job opportunities: crash courses, and meeting with employers on the one hand; restaurants and food processing activities on the other hand.
Most part of the innovation lies within the fact that, contrary to the usual public equipment, the kitchen will respond to an original collective governance. Furthermore, it will be financially autonomous while receiving part of the benefits from private Activity operating in the vicinity.
A dense prefiguration program will anticipate, during the first 2 years of the program, the inauguration of the building.
- Ville de Lille
- Métropole Européenne de Lille (MEL) - Organised agglomeration
- Société de Restauration et Rénovation de Lille (SORELI) - Public/Private Company
- Institut Supérieur d'Agriculture (ISA) - Research Center
- Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS) - Research Center
- Association "Les sens du Goût" (LSG) - NGO
- Fédération du Nord du Secours Populaire Français (SPF) - NGO
- Maison de l'Emploi de Lille, Lomme, Hellemmes (MDE) - Public Agency
- La Sauvegarde du Nord (SN) - NGO
- Le Centre d'Innovation des Technologies sans Contact (CITC) - Private Company
- Rencontres Audiovisuelles (RA) - NGO
In 2020, while the brownfield progressively becomes a spectacular new piece of urban fabric, the collective kitchen attracts the neighborhood. It federates civil society at the local level: “food” becomes the new key word in Fives for most actions strengthening social inclusion and tackling poverty. Bartering recipes, meeting regularly at the kitchen, some inhabitants venture in a new economic Activity, taking advantage of the micro-incubator. Local young people try entering the brand new hostelling school, younger feed the kitchen’s blog with a popular cooking broadcast. Some manage to get a job in the ecosystem: a gathering of productive, and food selling activities, organized in an original “food court”. Many (even out of the neighborhood) start using the local money in order to buy “made in Fives” label food.
March 2017: end of the initiation phase, starting meetings with the local population in order to co-design the future kitchen. Temporary modules are being built in order to host workshops and meetings. On site, depollution starts.
September 2017: the detailed design of the kitchen is the last piece necessary to ask for the building permit. Beginning of studies upon the juridical and economical structure that will host the whole device.
June 2018: Constitution of the legal and economic entity.
November 2018: Inauguration of the whole device: kitchen, vertical food farm, and ecosystem. End of prefiguration, all activities are transferred to the new equipment.
June 2019: First evaluation, and common agreement on “how to continue after the end of the program”.
"An urban project only makes sense if it is dedicated to the inhabitants, and if it can improve their living environment. For its peculiar industrial history, the Fives Cail brownfield is a symbol. The City of Lille wished to make out of it an exemplar place, where you can dwell, work and entertain. We thus decided to create a « Halle gourmande »: a place dedicated to food, mixing cooking, productive and food-services activities. For the same reason we carried up the project of a « community kitchen », designed as a tool for sharing and empowering, a place to gather for the simple pleasure of cooking. Since its main purpose is social inclusion, anyone shall be able to get there to share time and know-how with friends and family."