Historical background

The starting point for the SUN project was an observation, made in 2007: several ‘sustainable neighbourhoods’ or ‘eco-disctricts’ are developing in the outskirts of our cities, when in the same time more central urban neighbourhoods are subject to dereliction, especially those inherited from the industrial era, which do not reach to re-enter in a positive development dynamics, despites numerous public support policies.

It is of course positive that the design of new neighbourhoods ntegrates sustainability principles, but are not some new districts a bit rapidly considered as ‘sustainable’ on the sole basis that they make use of new technologies and techniques, so that the level of energy performance of buildings is much higher than in older neighbourhoods? In addition, this evolution of our territories rises questions at the city level: why allowing developments on greenfield resources when urban brownfield resources are underused? Why promoting peripheral developments, often poorly accessible by public transports, while certain urban locations are much more easy to access? Finally, this evolution rises questions related to environmental justice: these new sustainable neighbourhoods are generally not financially accessible to poorest populations, who concentrate in certain existing urban neighbourhoods, with the consequent risk of an accelerated physical dereliction of these neighbourhoods (due to difficulties to maintain the buildings, due to a lack of revenues for the local authorities, etc)

How therefore to ensure a certain attractiveness to these existing urban neighbourhoods, necessary to their self-renovation, at a time when ‘sustainability’ is often reduced to the energy issue and is used as a marketing argument helping to sell dwellings?

Why not by demonstrating that these urban neighbourhoods have other assets that can be enhanced, and that they can effectively contribute to the sustainable development of our cities?