Journal
Edit 06 December 2021
by Marcelline Bonneau

Last UIA TAST'in FIVES Journal: Urban labs as a new way of creating and living the city

Cooking workshop © Cuisine Commune de Chaud Bouillon ! - J. Quispe Leuridan
Cooking workshop © Cuisine Commune de Chaud Bouillon ! - J. Quispe Leuridan
This last journal of the UIA TAST’in FIVES project accounts for the evolution of the project after UIA funding was stopped. It details the way it has become a real element of the newly renovated Fives Cail neighbourhood, while further finalising its activities and transferring to its new and final location, the renovated building hosting Chaud Bouillon!. TAST’in FIVES has further demonstrated the way food can bring together a neighbourhood, with important learnings in terms of governance, communication and renovation works. All this enabling TAST’in FIVES to be innovative and functioning as an urban lab to develop a new methodology to creating and living the city.

Executive summary

TAST’in FIVES has now been officially finished for 1 year. The project is now becoming a real and crucial element of the newly renovated Fives Cail neighbourhood, as an “ecotone”, enabling a full integration of different worlds, while overlapping realities and people. During this last year, notwithstanding the pandemics, it further finalised its activities and more importantly its transfer to its new and final location, the renovated building hosting Chaud Bouillon! for the Common and Professional kitchen and the Food Court and the new greenhouse for the Urban Farm. The Food Court is still the major infrastructure to be implemented: major delays have resulted from the pandemic and different contractual arrangements with the Municipality and the intervening third party, the National Agency for Territorial Cohesion (ANCT), the main landlord of the building.

For sure, after 4 years, TAST’in FIVES has demonstrated the way food can bring together a neighbourhood, inhabitants and economic actors with different cultural, professional and age backgrounds -throughout a realm of complementary activities. Governance – which was one of the key innovations of the project in its proposal – has proven to be effective and will continue to shape the functioning of Chaud Bouillon!, even if today it has to reinvent itself with a modified leadership, because of the closure of the project. Unified communication was a key challenge of governance which was eventually finalised. Renovation works – especially their related public procurements – have enabled major learnings in terms of co-creating projects with a variety of partners.

In the end, TAST’in FIVES has achieved its objectives in being innovative and functioning as an urban lab to develop a new methodology to creating and living the city.

1. Towards a smarter city?

 

On 18 September 2021, the Common Kitchen celebrated its closure and, together with the Urban Farm, took advantage of the European Heritage Days to be included in a tour of the Fives Cail renovation project. After spending a day on the site, one visitor summarises his impressions of the overall site and of TAST’in FIVES “you are really creating a smarter city. In your local ecosystem, there will be all that one person needs: access to local and organic food, activities to learn urban agriculture and meet your neighbours, a Swimming pool to kick off your day on the right foot, lots of space for children to run-play-enjoy their freedom, great places to go out and have a drink and food. I want to move here with my 3 children.”

TAST’in FIVES, has been part of the wider ecosystem of this renovation project. Now that the UIA project is ending, its full integration in the neighbourhood, and more widely in the city, is becoming clearer and more meaningful to everybody.  More than being part of an ecosystem, TAST’in FIVES seems to have created an “ecotone”, this bridge between ecosystems, which enable a full integration of different worlds, while overlapping realities and people.

This Last Journal of the project under UIA funding – but not of its life! - presents what has been achieved in the last year of the project, the prospects for the future, as well as, as usual, learnings for other interested cities and stakeholders to embark on such a journey.

Fives Cail Renovation project, Passage de l’Internationale © J. Quispe Leuridan
Fives Cail Renovation project, Passage de l’Internationale © J. Quispe Leuridan

 

2. TAST’in FIVES has not stopped after the UIA funding

“We made it until the end! We are now about to be able to provide an offer for the neighbourhood, for professionals, of social, cultural and economic activities!”, enthusiastically shares Audrey LINKENHELD, First Deputy Mayor of the City of Lille. Despite the hazards of the pandemic, the TAST’in FIVES project has moved on towards its new life: from prototyping to stable implementation in its renovated building, under Chaud Bouillon!. The Common and Professional kitchens and the Urban Farm are up and running: they have viable business and operational models, the UIA experience has enabled testing what forms could be taken in the future.  The Food Court is still being finalized.

The Cooking workshops organised by Les Sens du Goût, and La Sauvegarde du Nord have resumed, after the lockdowns (from October 2020 to April 2021). Amongst others, they completed the activities organised over European Heritage Days week-end on 18 and 19 September 2021, around the “Guinguettes Made in Fives” for the general public[1]. Participants returned with the same interest as before, with an average of 10 participants each time. The atmosphere has remained cheerful and playful, despite the sanitary measures – fully respected by all.

Cooking workshop @ L’Avant-Goût © Les Sens du Goût
Cooking workshop @ L’Avant-Goût © Les Sens du Goût

The activities in the Common kitchen continue under the previous format, facilitated by le Sens du Goût together with the coordination of the CCAS. The workshops finally moved to their final destination, Chaud Bouillon!, on 4th October 2021, and a new dynamic has emerged. Not only have the workshops not lost participants in the move, but on the contrary, they have been many demands from new partners. As Margaux HELFER from the CCAS explains, they have had to get adjusted to the new demands: “We will have to learn to manage all the incoming demands, our agendas are already full! We used to work with our direct partners, now, organisations from outside the UIA project come and ask for a timeslot. We will create synergies amongst each other to make the most out of the available planning”.

Cooking Workshop on 11 October 2021 © Cuisine Commune de Chaud Bouillon ! - J. Quispe Leuridan
Cooking Workshop on 11 October 2021 © Cuisine Commune de Chaud Bouillon ! - J. Quispe Leuridan

[1] These week-ends also benefitted from activities from other local NGOs :  Korzeam, providing initiation to African music and danse; Don Man shop and l'Artotheque L'inventaire, on plastic arts; Bicloubook, reading of books; all these with local public support, from Politique de la Ville fund.

The support to entrepreneurs has been extended and 12 entrepreneurs are now being incubated (out of 27 applicants). Before the opening of the Professional kitchen, activities took place in a Tiers-lieu called Bazaar St-So, for a total of 300 hours of support. Now, the professional kitchen has been fully operational since 30 August 2021. A visit was organised on 15 September 2021, and cooking on site launched at the same time. Before the Food Court opens (see below), the entrepreneurs have the chance to test their products in other places.

The training for professionals has moved forward. The caterer has now been selected and started working on 21 September 2021. The pandemics restricted the willingness of caterers to apply for this position, yet, Baluchon managed to recruit a motivated professional wishing to move into training. Clients for the caterer will be identified and provided by Baluchon: there is already a long waiting list as the pool of sustainable and local caterers able to produce large quantities is very limited in Lille.

One of the rooms of the professional kitchen © Marcelline Bonneau
One of the rooms of the professional kitchen © Marcelline Bonneau

 

The Urban Farm is maybe the biggest success of the project in its last year. Indeed, while it was composed of two main types of activities during the prototyping phase - urban agriculture experimentation and awareness-raising/education with the general public - the form it would take, both physically and in terms of governance was yet to be defined a year ago.

In terms of the experimentations carried out by Junia, the engineering school, the major challenge remained to ensure that the correct infrastructure would be built, while being dependent on a complex public procurement, with limited market offers. Visiting the farm in September 2021 was an unexpected surprise with two functional and well-adjusted greenhouses. Indeed, these greenhouses are host to aeroponics and hydroponics experimentations to also supply food for the upcoming Food Court, fed by an aquaponics system, heated by a mushroom growth.

Urban farm’s greenhouse © Marcelline Bonneau
Urban farm’s greenhouse © Marcelline Bonneau

The awareness-raising activities of Lilotopia – the name given to the UIA offspring of educational NGO on urban agriculture – are multiple, covering seedings, testing (larva growth, endive growth), spirulina farm, and raised beds. The most impressive work has been that based on governance and business model development. Indeed, Lilotopia was seeking a collaborative governance model involving local residents, NGOs and Chaud Bouillon!’s partners. An online co-creation workshop was organised 16 December 2021, to support this process, which led to the set-up of an NGO. Closely related to this, the business model was eventually decided to be based on own revenues from activities with local organisations and housing providers, as well as public subsidies.

Lilotopia in action © J. Quispe Leuridan
Lilotopia in action © J. Quispe Leuridan

The collaboration between Junia and Lilotopia currently takes the form of a partnership for Lilotopia to sub rent the space and jointly communicate. Links are on-going with the Common and Professional Kitchens. One of the next ambitions is to get greater involvement with the neighbourhood, its local inhabitants, NGOs, and social housing companies.

The different elements of the infrastructure of Chaud Bouillon! are now almost all finalised: the building is ready to welcome all activities, the Common Kitchen and the Professional Kitchen are fully operational as is the urban farm. These will be centered around the Food Court. Yet, even though the infrastructure and the business model are all prepared and funding secured, the exact format under which the Food Court can open by the chosen company, Petite Lune, is still not entirely defined.

“Petite Lune was meant to start its activities first, it will eventually start last”, explains Audrey LINKENHELD. Indeed, Petite Lune had to overcome a few technical issues: a few misunderstandings about electricity provision and accounting delayed the process but were finally solved; the original renting contract had to be extended after the pandemics impact (and delays) to ensure that Petite Lune would get return on investments; the team was informed late about a potentially competing project opening in front, with a local brewery and bar. All these were overcome.

The last element to overcome was the change of space allocated to its outdoor activities, reduced by 400 m²: in fact, contrary to its commercial proposal, the rights to use the public domain were brought under the same commercial conditions as any another company on the site, thus restricting the deployment of the activity to part of the exterior spaces to avoid conflicts of use (residential vs. commercial activities).. Even if Petite Lune felt destabilized by the reduction of its possible activities, it decided to stay in the project and readjust its economic model. Discussions are now underway between Petite Lune and the lessor (ANCT) to ensure commitments in line with Petite Lune's ethical approach (guaranteeing correct salaries, supporting professional reintegration, organizing cultural activities, working with alternative food systems ( etc.) and the social impact objectives of the TAST'in FIVES project.

3. Latest challenges, learnings and insights

In 2021, following the UIA funding period, the project has faced recurring and new challenges. As is shown below, many will remain and will have to be dealt with, at the same time as providing key learnings that can be beneficial for other projects.

“How did you end up taking part in this cooking class today?” At the cloture of L’Avant-Goût, Josianne and Gilberte explained they were part of an NGO of elderly people in the neighbourhood and received the invitation this way. Pierre and Mehdi, both students in political sciences, saw the information on the Heritage Day website.

At the end of the cooking workshop of the European Heritage days © Marcelline Bonneau
At the end of the cooking workshop of the European Heritage days © Marcelline Bonneau

Later on, when the Guinguettes started their activities - children make-up, wooden games, salsa initiation, clothing panting – queues of interested participants waiting for their turn started to form, tables and benches became invaded for chilling. We could observe a wide range of people: families, single people, children of different ages – playing all over the place, elderly, young people, women wearing light summer tops as well as scarfed women, …

Activities during the European Heritage Days ©Cécile Cognet
Activities during the European Heritage Days ©Cécile Cognet

The partners happily observed that the activities over the 3 week-ends have been more familial, more local, more open to the neighbourhood, more accepted by the neighbours and less profit-oriented than than the summer ephemerous street food market, “La Friche Gourmande” (see the 2nd Journal and the article on Testing a future Food Court by prototyping it in real-life), ensuring real anchorage in the neighbourhood.

Lessons learnt
4 years have not been too much for developing adequate activities and partnerships to anchor the project in the neighbourhdood. On-going networking is key, clear visibility and getting regular feedback from users/visitors and partners is crucial as well.

The Municipality has been key in supporting the design and implementation of the UIA TAST’in FIVES project: “Yann Thoreau La Salle, Antoine Plane and Cécilie Dagmey, our project coordinators, have throughout the project been our anchors and drivers. We would never have been here today without them, personally and professionally” praises Margaux HELFER from CCAS. In the previous journal though, we were stressing the big challenge of letting go this coordination from the City. At the same time, we also stressed that the governance model of TAST’in FIVES has been at the heart of its innovation.

The Municipality still keeps on playing a key role in facilitating some of the remaining key elements of implementation of the project, notably related to Chaud Bouillon! and communication. However, after the initial strong involvement of the city in the prefiguration of the project, the partners are now fully independent in coordinating their actions amongst themselves.

The governance model has taken new ambitions in light of the development of Chaud Bouillon!. Indeed, since September 2020, partners have created working groups to further co-create the way they would manage the site. After a couple of months, it was decided to stop the working groups as institutionalised, to actually experiment this governance on the stop and identify working topics depending on arising issues and situations.

Yet, interactions have continued: every week or 2, all the partners involved in Chaud Bouillon! have met and updated each other about their developments.

The most surprising is to see the involvement and dedication of Petite Lune, the private partner which joined the project towards its end to be the coordinator of the Food Court: as a private partner seeking to get a return on financial and human investment, one could have expected for them to be less involved, engaged, in co-creation and participatory processes, for which they do not get immediate benefit. All the partners see them as one of them. Sarah QUELARD from Petite Lune explains “the project will work only if we work on this all together. We need to make our individual activities visible to one another to make them visible to the general public. The way we have worked and each one of us has actually enabled creating a confident space of work that is very rare to find elsewhere”.

Lessons learnt
“We feel that you get along well and that it makes your project meaningful” stated a participant to the activities of the Common kitchen interested in joining the incubator. “We are very different, with varied expectations. Sometimes, we need to find a common ground, but always end up identifying some satisfying solutions” details Stephane GOUBE from SORELI.
Identifying the key elements to make such a governance function is not easy: it is based on personal, interpersonal and professional skills. Adequate recruitment, clear identification of expectation, suitable communication processes seem to be some key takeaways for ensuring that, whatever form the governance model takes (which should also be thoroughly through) it works for the given partners at the given time.

Communicating about the different features of TAST’in FIVES has been a complex process during the lifetime of the project (see previous Journal): different partners, different entities, separate communication plans, with diverse outreach impacts. “Making such different activities live under a single brand is a bit tricky” shares Margaux HELFER from CCAS. Yet, now at the end of the project, the Chaud Bouillon! trademark is finalised, with a declinaison for all the partners and their activities. The overall contractual framework for each partner to use will soon be ready to be signed through individual commitments.

At the same time, communication has increased and improved in the last year. Social media, especially Facebook, has provided strong visibility to the summer activities. The move and opening of the Common kitchen have also been relayed via the City of Lille’s website and on Facebook, attracting a lot of interest to this new infrastructure (see above).

A few main issues remain: improving signposting on the site, further integrating Lilotopia and Junia in the overall Chaud Bouillon! communication and identifying the actual leader of the communication strategy. Now that the activities have been moved to their final destination, these will be more concretely on the agenda of the partners.

Common kitchen visual identity © Cuisine Commune de Chaud Bouillon ! - J. Quispe Leuridan
Common kitchen visual identity © Cuisine Commune de Chaud Bouillon ! - J. Quispe Leuridan
Lessons learnt
Communication has been one of the most difficult working topics of the internal governance within TAST’in FIVES and now in Chaud Bouillon! Balancing the judicial requirements with co-creation, in parallel with individual agendas and wishes for visibility has been challenging. Yet, a forward-looking approach together with strong coordination from the Municipality has proven that such a complex partnership can be visible under a single trademark.

Political vision and leadership are key for launching and implementing a project such as that of TAST’in FIVES. Hadn’t it been for the political support, this project would have not been possible. In addition, the coordination has been key to ensure a smooth implementation leading to full independence.

The crucial role of the coordinator within the Municipality was already stressed in the previous journal. this position ensures not only coordinating the different partners but also liaising with the other City departments and wider City projects.

In the case of this project, another key tool has ensured the integration within urban policies and future follow-up of Chaud Bouillon!: that is the Steering Committee of the wider Fives Cail renovation project, which will be on-going as long as the renovation will continue.

The Municipality will also keep a special eye on the coordination of Chaud Bouillon! not only as its offspring, but also to ensure the adequacy within Fives Cail. It will also be present as remaining the owner the trademark.

Lessons learnt
It seems that an innovative project disrupts the standard frameworks and usages of Municipalities, both for elected representatives and civil servants. Training and awareness about what urban innovation is, should be organised more regularly.
Frameworks, such as Steering groups, in Municipalities are key to ensure adequate and secured follow-up of activities throughout political mandates, especially when these include external funding and long-term involvement of partners.

"Discussions and exchanges with Petite Lune about the Food Court have been complex: we have had to start the discussion over and over again. Indeed, the building was built before they were granted the right to develop their economic activities on the site!” shares Stéphane Goube from Soreli. The previous journal also stressed the limitations for CCAS and Les Sens du Goût to design the Common Kitchen they wanted to be as friendly and welcoming as possible.

Indeed, the renovation procedures were bound to Public Procurement rules on the one hand and very strict technical and fire safety regulations on the other, which limited, to a certain extent, the room for manoeuvre of the partners in creating and furbishing the space, and led to some lack of understanding of the final design (of the rooms, windows etc.).

Yet, some solutions were identified: the Common Kitchen is colourful and enjoyable, the Professional kitchen, highly equipped with a nicely designed  “move forward” approach (always moving forward in the cooking process, never backwards, to prevent contamination of products), the space for the Food Court ready with adequate electricity access The results are very satisfactory.

Common Space of the new Common Kitchen © Cuisine Commune de Chaud Bouillon ! - J. Quispe Leuridan
Common Space of the new Common Kitchen © Cuisine Commune de Chaud Bouillon ! - J. Quispe Leuridan
Lessons learnt
“We should find a way to involve all the relevant partners before the design of the infrastructure. This would improve understanding of regulations, constraints and possibilities for all” suggests Stéphane Goube from Soreli.  Getting first consultation of potential partners in the project and further getting familiar with each other’s fields of work – by on-going discussions and exchanges – ensures common understanding of what is possible or not and finding adequate solutions for all.

“We have been unable to design a proper monitoring strategy of our activities so far. Now we want to re-open this work field” declares Margaux HELFER from CCAS. Indeed, as presented in the previous journal, evaluation has been limited in the previous phases of the project, and were restricted to : the number of attendees to activities:, a sociological analysis of the neighborhood was carried out as well as a short qualitative analysis of the profile and interest of participants of the activities of L’Avant-Goût. The partners would now like to identify the profiles and interests of the participants, also enabling shifting their strategies if need is. Such a monitoring is also key to justify funding and to talk more concretely about the achievements of the different structures of the project, notably the Common Kitchen.  There in particular, it is envisaged to use some flexible online survey tools, via tablets.

Lessons learnt
Monitoring and evaluation is key for any type of project, even more so if funded publicly. Yet, it is crucial to identify the most relevant indicators – which the project holder can act upon, the best strategy to use the data – to adjust the proposed activities, and the means for collecting the data – to make them agile. Such a strategy should be defined upfront and get all the partners on board to ensure that the data are adequately and timely collected for clearly expected and needed results.

4. Urban labs as a new way of creating and living the city

UIA funding stopped in December 2020. TAST’in FIVES will close officially in December 2021. The visible legacy is obvious in terms of infrastructure and activities. The funding has enabled to develop a new way of working for the Municipality and for the involved partners. “I did not expect to learn actually so much about other ways of making the city” details Alix Requillart from Lilotopia. "Prototyping was a totally new approach for the City” adds Audrey LINKENHELD.

For Audrey LINKENHELD, urban innovation was a pre-requisite to the project: “The topic we are working on “ urban poverty and social insertion” does not have single answers: it requires innovation by definition. We have therefore developed social innovation in an evolving urban space”. It has enabled developing an innovative project combining renovation of an industrial building and a mix of social activities to reduce local poverty, all in a single location. “We have created unexpected synergies amongst our activities” praises Margaux HELFER from CCAS.

It has focused on the development of a smarter, more relevant, more inclusive neighbourhood, and, overall, city. “We have created very strong bonds with our neighbours, and all this, around food” summarises Hervé Hazard from Les Sens du Goût.  Indeed, food was selected as an “intuition” to work on urban poverty: it appeared to be very relevant, successful and timely in a country where each city is prompted to develop its Local Food Plan.

Without the UIA funding, the partners would not have been able to carry out their activities: nor independently, even less in a coordinated way. “We were also given the opportunity to experiment, readjust and fail!” continues Audrey LINKENHELD. “We still have a lot to experiment” concludes Pierre SAILLARD from Junia.

Thank you!

This journal was written based on the inputs provided via physical encounters, email exchanges and online discussions in September and October 2021, with the partners of the project: Audrey LINKENHELD and Cécilie Dagmey from Ville de Lille, Alix Requillart from Lilotopia, Pierre SAILLARD from Yncréa Hauts-de-France/JUNIA, Gaëlle WERKLING a from Baluchon, Hervé HAZARD from Les Sens du Goût, Margaux HELFER and Juan Quispe Leuridan from CCAS, Stéphane Goube from SORELI, and Sarah Quelard from Petite Lune.

I would like to thank all the partners for their inputs, reflections and sharing of experiences during the years I followed this project, making my work human, concrete, enjoyable, continuously demonstrating that a new city and a new way of making real are possible.

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