Lille Utopia

Meeting in Moulins

At our last meeting, we visited Moulins. The evening's topic was urban planning and green spaces, but we obviously touched on a lot of other topics such as Europe, the upcoming elections and the role of our European Metropolis of Lille in daily politics.

Volt Lille - Utopia 2026 - Fives

The subject of urbanism is vast and we didn't want to limit ourselves to anything in particular, like green spaces (there aren't enough of them) or housing (there aren't enough of those either), so our synthesis is a potpourri of everything we could imagine about what Lille and the Metropolis could look like in the future.

Cybertron, Trantor or ... ?

We have already published several articles on this subject during the summer, as our metropolis often resembles the science fiction planets Cybertron (no trees) or Trantor (no food grows here)… and also the Earth in Wall-E, but we will talk about waste another time. Here are our ideas:

  • Cover the motorway with a green roof to reduce noise and pollution and have a green strip running through Lille. Other metropoles have set up similar projects (Hamburg, Tel-Aviv) and in Lille this would make it possible to respond to a number of problems, including that of linking the south to the city centre and offering citizens an alternative place to walk and exercise. Considering the number of inhabitants who use the existing cover between Saint-Maurice and the Casino, we should extend this green strip to the whole city.
  • Require green space on the ground. Rooftops and facades are bonus green space (or albedo), but to have a breathable city and microclimate, we need to have green space on the ground and developers need to meet the minimum open land requirements in building projects.
  • Convert city centre parking spaces into green parking spaces. As has been done in the Citadel car park, car parks can also be built with open ground designs, which allows a space to be used as a car park while ensuring breathability and rainwater drainage. We would like to start converting our city centre car parks to similar open ground car parks.
  • Demand that large-scale construction projects include the facilities needed by future residents (schools, third-party spaces, space for doctors and kindergartens). We cannot just build flats and then wait for public authorities to determine where children can go to school or where to locate public services. Construction must take a more holistic approach and provide key services to reduce the need to use a car.
  • No longer deliver construction permits for plots above a certain size to preserve space for parks and green spaces. Although it is probably too late in 2026, we would like to focus on building smaller projects and increase density in a smart and sustainable way instead of wasting the last open spaces in the city. We should focus on extending existing buildings, inserting buildings into empty spaces (like in Tetris) instead of razing entire neighbourhoods to the ground and rebuilding in an unsustainable way as we have done before.
  • Follow the UK model of public management of empty flats. In the UK, municipalities can take over empty flats, renovate them and rent them out, with the rents minus the renovation and maintenance costs going back to the owner. We would like to introduce similar regulations to allow available flats to be put on the market.
  • Demand from the government a solution that encourages tenants to renovate the flats they rent in case landlords do not. To reduce our emissions and energy needs, our housing stock needs to be renovated until 2050. As landlords are often unwilling to invest in their properties, we call on the government to introduce legislation that allows tenants to renovate and requires landlords to set aside a certain maintenance reserve to improve buildings.

The general feeling was that in the future we will have to reduce car travel to reduce emissions. This means that we will need to have essential services and work spaces in close proximity. Our urban planning for the future must take this into account, because today we are mostly building sleepy villages in the hope that every household will have two cars to get everywhere.

There is much to be done and our government will probably only hand over the wheel after hitting the iceberg 🛳️