“Nothing is lost, nothing is created, everything is transformed.” These famous words from Lavoisier became the motto of Brézillon which opened a contaminated soil transit, sorting and recovery platform in February.
Métro-boulot-dodo (“travel-work-sleep”). In three little words (a hexasyllable in the French), the poet Pierre Béarn captured in 1968 the daily rhythm of today’s Parisians in particular and city dwellers in general, and raised the question of their time management: transport takes up a disproportionate amount of time, only leaving time for work and sleep. Having no leisure… is no life!
Fifty years later, the phrase is still just as apt. Going to work and doing your shopping on foot is a luxury reserved for a minority, a matter of luck or a utopia that could, within a decade, become a reality for the majority of city dwellers.
For a new model has been emerging since 2015, driven by urban planners such as the Dane Alexander Stahleand university professors like Carlos Moreno: this is “the closer-together city ” (Alexander Stahle), or “quarter-hour city”(Carlos Moreno). “In less than a quarter of an hour”, explains thelatter, “using soft mobility methods (walking, cycling, scooter), a resident must be able to access the services that are essential for their life.” He counts six of these: “housing, work, buying supplies, looking after ourselves, learning and thriving”.
“This “city of proximity” must reconcile citizens both with the region and with time. It will optimise three fundamental states. First of all, being better with the people we love by spending more time with them. Then, being better socially,[by sharing and offering services within our neighbourhood, or even our building, and by building new relationships in the public arena]. Finally, being better with the planet [by reducing our carbon footprint, and dedicating more time to ecological actions].”
The idea is popular with three quarters of the European city dwellers interviewed by the Observatoire des usages émergents de la ville, (the observatory for emerging uses of cities) in a survey conducted in 2017. For it combines the advantages of conurbations with “the calmer living environment of a city on a human scale (…): a win-win combination”. In cities such as Paris, Copenhagen, Barcelona and Tokyo, the city-village is already progressing from concept to reality.
author of Closer Together, This is the future of our cities (2016)
study conducted with 4,000 French and 3,000 European people (in Germany, the United Kingdom and Italy).