Greater Paris Cultural (Ad)venture

Grand Paris Seine et Oise , 2017

In 2017, we were invited to work with the urban community of Grand Paris Seine & Oise, the largest region of Greater Paris, grouping together 6 former multi-town administrative clusters and 73 municipalities who had never worked together on a project before. This entirely new urban community, endowed with rich cultural expertise, was deliberating about the kind of cultural policy that was needed in such a varied region that is quite coherent in terms of geography, spread out as it is on both sides of the winding river Seine, but remains completely heterogeneous from a social point of view – it includes towns where the wealth tax is the highest in France and those that are among the poorest in the whole country. Working with the researcher Raphaël Besson and Villes Innovations, which specialises in urban innovation, we determined to respond to this challenge.

We proposed a reactive and collaborative method for developing a cultural strategy that we considered needed to be closely focused on the region itself. Our sense was that culture offers huge benefits to a region and can facilitate both the way it is perceived and the way it is constructed, while on the other hand the region offers resources (natural, economic, urban) which nourish the cultural dynamic. The study opened our eyes to the immensity of this region and the challenges it faces in seeing itself an ensemble. We met with stakeholders, discovered places – not only cultural – and ran workshops to find out more about people’s expectations and hopes, in order to lay the foundations for a strategy that we called Grand Pari(s) Culturel Seine et Oise – the Greater Paris Cultural (Ad)Venture for the Seine et Oise Region. In collaboration with the Master Ville Durable de l’Ecole de Design Nantes-Atlantique (Masters programme in Sustainable Cities at the Nantes-Atlantic School of Art and Design) we developed tools inspired by design thinking* – specifically a collaborative cartography linking different stakeholders and broadening the question of what culture is. We also suggested that the president of the urban community, local councillors and municipal employees visit another large conurbation, Aix-Marseille. This three-day study trip was an opportunity to find out more about a variety of projects. Finally, we organised an open space technology meeting** bringing together a hundred local stakeholders to think creatively about the Hundred (micro)sites of the Greater Paris Cultural (Ad)venture for the Seine et Oise Region.

*Design Thinking is a design methodology that provides a solution-based approach to solving problems. It’s extremely useful in tackling complex problems that are ill-defined or unknown, by understanding the human needs involved, by re-framing the problem in human-centric ways, by creating many ideas in brainstorming sessions, and by adopting a hands-on approach in prototyping and testing. It has been largely disseminated in France by La 27ème région.
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*Open Space Technology (OST) : is a method for organizing and running a meeting or multi-day conference, where participants have been invited in order to focus on a specific, important task or purpose.In contrast with pre-planned conferences where who will speak at which time is scheduled often months in advance, and therefore subject to many changes, OST sources participants once they are physically present at the live event venue. In this sense OST is participant-driven and less organizer-convener-driven. Pre-planning remains essential; you simply need much less pre-planning. The actual agenda-schedule of presentations is partly or mostly unknown until people begin arriving. The scheduling of which talk, on which topic in which room is created by people attending, once they arrive. At the end of each OST meeting, a debriefing doc is created summarizing what worked and what did not work so the process can go more smoothly next year. OST began with efforts in the 1980s, by Harrison Owen. It was one of the top ten organisation development tools cited between 2004 and 2013.(Wikipedia)
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Type de marché

Contracting authority support


Urban Community of Greater Paris Seine et Oise


Villes Innovations
Nantes-Atlantic School of Design
Masters programme in Sustainable Cities.