imagine the city of tomorrow for a more sustainable future

In Le Havre, the future is being prepared today. In the most populous municipality in Normandy, the inhabitants are preparing a transformation under the sign of responsible development.

Throughout France, “third places” are multiplying and the city of the ocean is no exception. Business incubator, meeting place or workplace or cultural place, these spaces do not respond to the usual definitions: we experience another way of working together that promotes openness and innovation. At Le Havre, the ambition is clear: to succeed in changing green growth to invent the city of tomorrow.

Hangar Zéro: Low Tech and eco-construction

It is impossible to talk about Le Havre without mentioning its port: the industrial lung of Normandy, an essential place for the transport and exchange of goods in France. It is therefore in the heart of the docks, on the Quai de Saône, that our journey begins in this city that is reinventing itself.

Renamed “Hangar Zéro”, this former storage building has been given a new life dedicated to the circular economy and eco-construction: here the waste of some is the resource of others. The hangar is a real laboratory for building more sustainably and offering a new way of living in the city. Open to all, you will find a restaurant, a shop and several spaces still under construction that can house offices or workshops.

On the construction site, without plasterboard or rock wool, these newly minted builders are followers of “low tech”: they use simple techniques, local materials available in abundance and little processed: hemp, earth, straw. Inside the building, to structure the space, we also find the emblematic maritime containers:

We look for things that make sense: containers are the bricks of the port. It is a local resource that exists in large quantities, the containers that are damaged are taken at the end of their life and transformed.

Frederic Denise – Architect and referent in ground coverings

The team is also experimenting with raw earth, particularly for lining walls. But the soil in Normandy is clayey and cracks when it dries out. In conventional construction, sand is added, but it is a material that poses many ecological problems. To replace it, Hangar Zéro volunteers have come up with various solutions, one of which is quite original: they use human hair as a binder in their soil mix.

A small neighborhood hairdresser can produce a 100 liter bag of hair a week that goes to waste. We collect them and use them for construction. This is the circular economy

Frederic Denise – Architect and referent in ground coverings

Hangar Zéro brings together very different profiles: architects, physiotherapists, cataloged construction inspectors, residents of the neighbourhood… They all agree that we cannot continue to produce so much waste and consume so many natural resources.

Fort de Tourneville: culture at the service of urban transformation

Let’s take a little height to reach the Fort de Tourneville: this former military barracks now belongs to all of Le Havre, in particular to those who have a thirst for creativity.

Garden, park, canteen, bar, concert hall, music classes, exhibitions – it’s hard to make a quick list of everything you can do here. Since 2015, the association “Fort! which brings together all the resident structures of the fort offers another way of experiencing culture: more eco-responsible and more participatory.

Resolutely outward-facing, the place is open 24/7. It is a walking destination for the inhabitants of the district and 34 associations are based there: a radio station, graphic designers, visual artists, photographers. The city of Le Havre, owner of the ramparts, does not receive rent for the occupation of the workshops, but the residents agree to participate in the projects developed with the inhabitants of the district.

The doors have been removed. People from the neighborhood come, stroll and take advantage of the comforts that we have made here. We try many things, socially, environmentally or artistically. All projects are prepared with the inhabitants. They want animals: we put sheep, they want a garden, we make a garden. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t, we learn from our experiences.

Aubery Lecoq – Coordinator of the association Fort!

The Digital City: technology at the service of the planet

Back in the docks district, to discover the digital city: a place dedicated to responsible and sustainable innovation. Business accommodation, start-up incubator, workshops, training: here too there are many activities to promote the emergence of solutions for a better future.

Benjamín Colboc, director of “Green Systems” is one of the many business leaders who frequent the city: he is developing a data analysis application to save energy.

It is an energy dashboard: the goal is to collect data on buildings from a professional and restore it on a clear and ergonomic display: consumption of water, gas or even temperature data to find the energy savings that can be made in buildings.

Benjamin Colboc – director of “Green Systems”

In one of its clients in Le Havre, the analysis of the data allowed to save 15% on the energy bill of its headquarters, which represents 25,000 euros.

Le Havre de culture: feeding the land to feed the people

Arriving on the grounds of the “Le Havre de culture” association, it is hard to believe that we are still in Le Havre. However, this is the case, these are even the last agricultural lands of the municipality. Cars can be heard in the distance, but we are in the middle of nature, at the gates of the city.

In this preserved space, we are not content with growing vegetables. Since 2020, the association has been developing a collective garden and offering training in agroecological practices.

We limit the work of the land, it is the worms that plow in our place! We have very healthy and tasty vegetables. In Normandy we are lucky to have a climate that allows us to produce a wide variety of vegetables.

Julie Letendre – Le Havre President of Culture

To encourage meetings and develop entertainment possibilities around the garden, the association intends to turn the farm’s barn into a real living space.

You want to know more ? Visit to see the replay of our program “Vachement Normand: Le Havre de matin”

A program presented by Vincent Chatelain to discover every Saturday at 12:55 on France 3 Normandy.

Leave a Reply