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Is there a Future for eco-cities?

Prospective roles of Versailles Chantiers within the Greater Paris: A hub of multi-modal communication

Versailles, 2013


This is a first global report of the Integration Seminar – a module of innovation and learning within the International Professional Master in Management of Eco-Innovation. This is a graduate program managed by the Econoving Chair in Generating Eco-Innovation – a cluster of academic, industrial and government actors focused on urban sustainability. Counting for the Work Package 3 – Anticipation of the Econoving’s Rail Station Program (Programme Gare, 2011-2013), this report is the result of the joint work carried out by the Econoving researchers and graduate students in collaboration with the industrial partners. Coordination of work, research, text & design: Dr. Ioan M. Ciumasu –

The views expressed here are of the author, and do not necessarily represent those of the institutions

© 2013 Econoving

Acknowledgements – the following have contributed to this work: Econoving 2011-2012 students: Anna Aghvanyan, Adrian Carrillo, Krishna Chandran, Boubacar Coly, Fanny Courry, Maxim Doubrouski, Elodie Gonthier, Sirin Hamsho, Alejandra Hoyos, Xiaochao Huang, Collins Ihedioha, Natalia Kozdra, Anna Lomteva, Javad Mahmoodirad, Ravi Nakulan, Alexandra Ostrovskaya, Kevin Ramirez, Marcel Roquette, Dina Salakhova, Maria Stoica, Sandra Velasco. Econoving 2012-2013 students: François Apicella, Gabriel Bermeo, Zoheir Haghighi, Ludmila Kobyakova, Renan Le Tohic, Habib Liamidi, Hélène Luciani, Diego Martinez, Mingyan Meng, Teodora Morar, Surya Muraleedharan-Nair, Julian Muriel, Marina Nikitina, Kalliopi Ntanou, Maria Lucia Portocarrero, Cécile Tchoubaev. Expert coaches, jury or institutional support: Jean-Louis Jourdan, Alain Adrianssens, Thierry Lafont (SNCF), Agnes Roux (City of Versailles), Bernard Blez, Etienne Drouet (GDF Suez), Laurent Schmitt (Alstom Grid), Frédéric Cuq (Saur), Christophe Lombard (Italcementi), Dominique Agrech (X-Ange), Sylvie Faucheux, Keith Culver, Beat Bürgenmeier, Christelle Hue, Rachel Guilloteau, René Audet, Sophie Némoz, Caroline Gans-Combe, Quentin Courtier, Frédéric Louradour, Amélie Coulbaut-Lazzarini, Guillaume Bailly (UVSQ).

















UVSQ – Guyancourt Campus. Photo: Ioan M. Ciumasu



The Integration Seminar (IS) is an exercise of collaborative integration and application of knowledge gained in individual course modules – a student-expert interaction. This is a hands-on undertaking, organized in the form of a simulation of an eco-innovation consulting firm responding to a call for project proposals launched by a local community – Building the best European eco-innovation hub: From Versailles Chantiers railway station to the eco-city of the future. By 2030 and 2050 Versailles Chantiers should become: 1. A Multi-modal pole (“pôle multimodal”) – a hub of combined persons and value exchanges 2. A development engine of the City of Versailles and a global reference for urban sustainability This community of innovators and learners is organized in three teams (consulting firms), each with a different angle of approach: Multi-Innovation, Climate Change, and Technology Push. The studentsexperts interaction took the form of lectures, coaching, presentations and jury evaluations. The IS allows a realistic exploration of the links and creative tensions between topics and between innovation factors; identification of the main drivers of change; co-definition of problems and of the potential solutions. The work took place at the Econoving locations in Guyancourt.

UVSQ – Guyancourt Campus. Photo: Ioan M. Ciumasu


II. EXERCISE DESCRIPTION The IS exercise has been iterated two university years in a row – 2011-2012 & 2012-2013. Each year, the work went through two phases – vision building and implementation plan, as illustrated below.


1st Phase – Vision building



- similar projects - methods - context - project dynamics & structure

VISION & Main Objectives


2nd Phase – Developing the implementation plan





III. LESSONS FROM THE 1st YEAR Participants have engaged in lively professional feedbacks, notably in two deliveries by the students in front a jury of academics, industrials, financial experts and public authorities.

UVSQ – Guyancourt Campus – Interactions between 2011-2012 students and experts. Photos: Elodie Gonthier

Some first patterns and challenges have emerged:      

It is very difficult to collect reliable, coherent information – in deed, a world-wide known challenge Trans-sectorial understanding of a city is a heavy task, due to traditional divisions between disciplines New types of knowledge management are needed, which requires sustained effort and learning by all The historical heritage and the context of the Greater Paris represent both opportunities & challenges Scenarios can address: technology choices, social acceptability, environmental concerns, costs & risks Higher spatial scales are important: a train station can only function as embedded in its city context


The method has worked very well. It appears that this type of exercise is a very useful tool for foresight and anticipation in terms of eco-innovation and eco-city development. The approach allows the people involved in the works, both graduate students and experts, to grasp the project reality at the city level and to build a solid foundation for future solutions. Various options and scenarios have been analyzed, so as to link local context with global issues. Further, the set of three angles of view has proven to be very insightful, as each of them can be taken autonomously or/and in complementarity with the other two: multi-innovation, climate change and technology push. The three perspectives have thus been continued in the 2nd year. The iteration of the exercise two years in a row is also meant to allow the confirmation and consolidation of the method, and to further develop the initial results and lessons – to enhance the overall value of the work. This 2nd run of the exercise was therefore planned using: -

The lessons and materials obtained by the 1st year The recent advances of the researchers in the Railway Station Program The newest advances and insights on eco-innovation and eco-city in the literature

The 2011-2012 Econoving students & experts have passed the relay over to the next Generation.




Cities are becoming the drivers of change. The place and role of Econoving Cities are veritable “growth machines” for their hinterlands (Molotch 1976), which may explain why humanity is mostly urban already. The global urbanization rate is accelerating, as do environmental degradation. Urban transformation is now an ecological research topic in its own right (McDonald 2008). The success or the failure of the transition to sustainability will be determined in cities. In the globalizing world of the 21st century, global fluxes of matter-energy, information and people can be understood in terms of exchanges within a global network of interconnected cities – some “world cities” being more influential than others (Sassen 1991, 2002; Beaverstock et al. 2000). In the same time, cities are the product of their local context, and are dependent on the natural resources which they extract from their hinterland (“ecosystem goods and services” which together form the “ecosystem carrying capacity”; Wackernagel et al. 2006). The sustainability of a city is therefore a matter of how advanced that city is in the transition from a local identity to a double, local-andglobal identity (Ciumasu & Culver 2011). In deed, this is the core challenge for city planners and managers for the next years and decades. Since 2009-2010, Econoving has engaged in its own eco-city development and employs Versailles Chantiers – a communication hub within Greater Paris – as a pivot and experimental platform for collaborative innovation for urban sustainability (Culver et al. 2011; Ciumasu 2013a,b). The Greater Paris has its own global weight: a concept launched by the French President (2007) as an overarching objective of re-imagining Paris as a world’s mega-city promoting sustainability and competitiveness. This is the largest project of Paris since G.E. Haussmann has re-organized the city in the 19th century (as commissioned by Napolen III). The institutional context at Econoving is a university-industrygovernment consortium supporting a research and post-graduate education program. City managers experience the need of knowledge integration In their quest for sustainable development, many urban communities and research institutions have pioneered urban foresight, sometimes followed by policies for urban development. But the decisionmaking process tended to favor trade-offs which avoided controversy and thus have changed nothing in the end (Weber et al. 2009). Even a strong political will was not enough. On the other hand, we now live in a knowledge society, and the fundamental question now towards city sustainability is: How to develop a functional relation between science and decision makers? This question may seem straightforward, and yet there is another challenge before us: all disciplines contributing to sustainability have their distinct understanding of a sustainable city – an ecologist, a sociologist, an economist, an engineer or an architect talks about what the concept of urban sustainability means for her/him and there is no real common language (Williams 2010). This causes mismatches and intricacies that drive effective decision making into a halt. Consequently, it’s easy to declare aims of urban sustainability, but much more difficult to make it real. This can only commence with federative efforts – notably the creation of agoras of learning and knowledge co-generation by various experts. Such efforts often result in great collections of knowledge but this is still not enough: they stop short of integration (Wheeler and Beatley 2009). As a result, for city managers, an essential question still awaits answers: How to actually use all this heterogeneous body of knowledge?


The hard but necessary way of experimentation. The role of cityports Innovation is the most effective way to bridge science and society, both in terms of transforming industrialized societies (a good start is the 1st Innovation Convention of the European Commission, 05-07 December 2011, and in terms of city systems (Han et al 2012). However, we are facing a set of paramount challenges. Firstly, the need for trans-disciplinarity (problem solving-oriented research) is widely recognized, but there is no such thing as a unified theory of sustainability. Secondly, as we speak, we are already over-consuming the Earth’s carrying capacity, which means that simply “innovation for sustainability” is not sufficient – we need to innovate fast or face the “perfect storm” within decades (Beddington 2009). Thirdly, having in mind the first two points, postponing decisions is already a ‘worse’ decision, which means that we often have to act even before we fully understand the process. In summary, the only practical way towards sustainability is experimentation, i.e., learning and doing in the same time. In effect, the process of innovation itself is describable as a learning cycle (Ciumasu 2013c). In terms of the transition management theory, such active generation of innovation is understood as a double process of learning-by-doing and doing-by-learning (Geels 2010). In terms of urban renewal initiative types, communities are scattered on a gradient from whole-city commitments to (only) sectorial developments to plain ignorance and disinterest (Portney 2003; Flint & Raco 2012). Interestingly, even in the absence of a dedicated national policy, many cities have major sustainability initiatives, e.g., Seattle, Portland, Chicago, New York, San Francisco (among the large American cities) (Fitzgerald 2010) or Grand Rapids - Michigan among the smaller cities. Some key patterns are detectable. One is the re-thinking of the various functions of the city areas so as to promote walkable neighborhood. Another one is the use of a “city port” (seaport or airport) as a hub of development and renewal of metropolitan areas (Van Wijk 2007). This reminds the historic role of railway stations for urban and economic development in the 19th century (Conticelli & Tondelli 2011). They were initially located outside the town (due to public health considerations) but have gradually melted into the urban shape and functions (Reusser et al. 2008). Today, in the European context of good public transportation, high population densities and the arrival of high-speed trains, a strong competition has emerged between air and train travels across medium-long distances (300-500 km), with important consequences on cities (e.g. Terrin 2009). Such developments, together with many other details of modern life, notably the revival of passive urban transportation (walking and cycling) and the new communication technologies, are generating a great deal of interest in the concept of “multi-modal transportation”. Stakeholders include citizens, industry and public authorities. It is in this context that Econoving runs its own foresight exercise and collaborative learning cycles.



The following options have been developed by the 2012-2013 generation of students and experts, as summarized in the remainder of this reports: a. URBAN RENEWAL: Integrative planning for radical progress in Versailles Chantiers b. URBAN RESILIENCE: Smart adaptation & mitigation of climate changes in Versailles Chantiers c. URBAN TECHNOLOGY: Integrative solutions for augmenting Versailles to the status of all-times International Hub of Innovation


Current station. Original photo

URBAN RENEWAL: Integrative planning for radical progress in Versailles Chantiers

DIAGNOSIS: There is an important gap between current situation & the true potential of VC VISION: We want to change that!


Source: Current station. Original photos Source:


Conference Centre

Versailles Chantiers should take better advantage of its prominent place within the Greater Paris. To become a multi-modal hub of transport and communications, Versailles Chantiers station should reinvent itself together with its neighborhood, become a Global Reference for Eco-Innovative Solutions. A great number of solutions are now available, and all modern needs of the people should be met in the same time and in the same place. The key to achieving this has two complementary facets: 1. Forward-looking, transdisciplinary and problem solving oriented thinking 2. Pro-active communications to a local, national, European and Global audience How? The proposition is to mobilize energies and intelligence via transforming Versailles Chantiers into an International Showroom and Conference Centre by 2020. This should serve as an exhibition place, and the station itself should be part of the “live exhibition” of new options for sustainable living through multi-modal communication. Investment required: 1.3-4.1 bn € depending on the chosen scale (cf. benchmarking), through a financial mix: partnerships, contracts and loans. A conference space can also be organised nearby the station for: exhibitions, public dialogue, expert meetings, tourist offices, educational media. Many cities have chosen to build a powerful conference centre as a strategic way to generate visibility and to attract investments (e.g. Bak et al. 2012, DOI: 10.1007/978-3-642-23550-4_2, available online at; and Ramirez-Pasillas 2010, DOI: 10.1080/08985620902815106, available online at


URBAN RESILIENCE: Smart adaptation & mitigation of climate changes in Versailles Chantiers DIAGNOSIS. Versailles Chantiers train station has a vast, unused potential to function as a pivot of technology and innovation in the Greater Paris and a socio-economic engine for the city of Versailles.

Station today 1. Higher t°C, Frequency & Duration of heat waves 2. More days of droughts during summer 3. Extreme precipitations and natural disasters

Impacts to be expected

Poor thermal regulation No water management Low platforms Insuficient shelters

- Heat stress; Lower productivity - Higher energy consumption - Water scarcity & higher cost - Higher health risks - Operations vs. flood risks - Passengers discomfort & risks - Power shortage risk

VISION: By 2050, Versailles Chantiers plays a leading global role as:  Sustainability reference  Benchmark of the best climate-related solutions How? By establishing a Technology Validation Laboratory (to be functional by 2030, nearby the station) which will be recognized by world’s experts as a place where the latest technological solutions are tested for viability, system integration, and climate relevance. Rationale: Technology goes through stages of development from proof-of-concept to demonstrators and commercial prototypes. The bottleneck of a technological solution is the test of its capacity to function as part of a system of various technologies: technology readiness (Azizian et al. 2011, DOI: 10.1002/sys.20186, online at



Initial investment: 110-130 M€

PARTNERS & private investors

Financial participation based on current renovation & others projects in the Greater Paris area


Mechanisms: Partners investments 30%, Tax return/Community grants 30%, Public subsidies 25%, Loans 15%

Régional governance (IDF, Dept..)

Local Authorities (Versailles, Grand Parc)

12% 6% 20% 25% 10%

European Commission State




Energy Green Areas


VC station

Green Mobility


Air Quality


A series of topics are important and inter-related. But the most prominent and urgent topics are related to energy and indoor air quality (related to health and physiological comfort). Therefore, two major objectives are forerunning in our approach and proposition: st

1. Versailles Chantiers should become the 1 carbon-neutral city district in the European Union 2. Green walls & related biotechnologies need to be tested as main solution to indoor pollution & comfort in stations

Proposed for VC building: - Indoor air cooling by 4-6째C - Cold air cools the building - Water reuse (toilets, etc)

Original photos

Proven Technology - shower tower: The air is cooled via reversed heat transfer (City of Melbourne 2004)


Future Avenue de Sceaux – Versailles. Artwork: Teodora Morar

URBAN TECHNOLOGY: Integrative solutions for augmenting Versailles to the status of All-times International Hub of Innovation DIAGNOSIS. Versailles Chantiers train station has a vast, unused potential to function as a pivot of technology and innovation in the Greater Paris and a socio-economic engine for the city of Versailles. VISION. Avenue de Sceaux will become a strategic axis: an inspiring journey connecting the historical heritage of Versailles Castle and the multi-modal pole of communication of Versailles Chantiers. This will magnify the profile of Versailles as a European and world eco-city reference.

Policemen on segways in Versailles.

Tramway on green path. Source: @N08/7944172282/ Info panels in parks. Original

First launch of Montgolfier Balloon in Versailles. Source:


Milestones and scenarios

Future VC and Avenue de Sceaux – Versailles Artwork: Teodora Morar

FINANCE & IMPLEMENTATION The estimated investment is: 70.8 Mâ‚Ź [0.8 M for studies & communication, 10 M for services, 40 M for clean technologies, 20 M for mobility and accessibility]. A Committee of stake-holders & experts would insure the project governance: SNCF, GDF Suez, Alstom, Italcementi, Saur, UVSQ, HEC, Versailles City, other industrial, academic & public partners The proposed process of achieving success is the candidature of the city of Versailles to become a European Green Capital by 2050, with the technical advice made by a Technology Committee composed of: - SNCF as an involved sponsor (also having a certain expertise in large projects) - City of Versailles as coordinator - Scientists from UVSQ and HEC in Saclay - Users of transport infrastructure - Residents of VC eco-district - Industrial local partners in mobility


UVSQ – Guyancourt Campus – Interactions between 2012-2013 students and experts. Photo: Teodora Morar

VI. i.



CONCLUSIONS & RECOMMENDATIONS The Integration Seminar has proven to be a right tool for the Econoving’s objectives to pursue innovation hand in hand with learning and experimentation. This report is a summary of the extended report which will be presented in April 2013 and counting for the Work Package 3 – Anticipation of the Railway Station Programe (Programme Gare). The method is suited for prospective work and learning and should be continued and enhanced. Three approaches have been identified as useful: “multi-innovation”, the generalist approach focused on horizontal integration and governance; “climate change”, which strategically addresses the issue of climate challenges and opportunities; and the “technology push”, as creative rethinking of the role of recent technological advances within the societal transformations towards sustainability. A city district can be an activity hub, but it must be treated as part of a wider system – the city itself. A district cannot be a strict managerial unit, because it lacks some essential functions of a community. A key recommendation for future developments is therefore to strengthen the role of Versailles Chantiers – and that of similar train stations – by augmenting its role within the city. Versailles Chantiers has the potential to become a European reference in urban sustainability and eco-innovation. The raison d’être of the rail station can be more than “just the place where you take the train”. Not all train stations can be nodes of multi-modal communications and exchanges, because this depends on the position within the wider network. Versailles Chantiers has this vocation, due to its role as communications hub within Greater Paris. But this train station has some unique advantages which can make it a very powerful point of convergence of urban socio-economic life – for the people of Versailles and for the global citizens.


UVSQ – Guyanco

VII. THE ROAD AHEAD Aside from the essential conclusions and recommendations resulted from the exercise, the most valuable outcome of the Integration Seminar is perhaps the progress up the learning curve. We have a tried-out modus operandi which enables the Econoving’s Master and the cluster itself to address further challenges and opportunities – other stations and other cities in France and in Europe. The development of this method has been made possible by a very large number of people since the establishment of Econoving, and the development of this method is due to all of them (full list on the second page of this document), most notable Prof. Sylvie Faucheux, Prof. Keith Culver and two of the core team members so far, Christelle Hue and Rachel Guilloteau. As our graduate students and industrial and academic experts have shown in their work, this is only the beginning. The long-term idea is the commitment to using cluster intelligence to transform sectorial actors into innovation engines – a bottom-up process and dynamics that is capable of generating system innovation and green jobs.


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Is there a Future for eco-cities?