The European project Links: for sustainable and attractive urban centres
par Elsa Sidawy | 07.29.11
European cities are under supervision. Initiated by the city of Bayonne, the LINKS (Low tech INherited from the old european cities as a Key of performance and Sustainability) project, part of the European programme URBACT, is designed to find ways to combine historical cities’ ancient heritage with sustainable development challenges. The objective is nothing less than to transform these urban centres into tomorrow’s ecological districts. Since 2010, nine partner cities have been meeting regularly in order to constitute a real laboratory for experiments. Interview of Frédérique Calvanus, coordinator of the LINKS project for the city of Bayonne.
Which issues has the city of Bayonne been facing that led it to take part in a European programme?
It all started with a debate between the supporters of preservation and the supporters of sustainable development. When we carried out a certain number of studies on ancient buildings in Bayonne, we realised that these two attitudes, far from being antithetic, were heading in the same direction: these buildings are actually quite efficient energetically-speaking, thanks in particular to the very narrow and very dense urban fabric that is typical of the city. Their preservation is therefore far from being incompatible with sustainable development precepts. We realised that the best solutions for ancient buildings’ behaviours were ecological restoration solutions. Obviously, ecological materials are much more fit for these buildings’ behaviours.
Which premise led to the LINKS programme implementation?
“Historical centres are tomorrow’s ecological districts,” a general and slightly catchy premise meaning that LINKS partners are working on urban, social, cultural, environmental and economic aspects so that ecological restoration may be a green growth factor for cities and therefore an asset for local economy. We realise that ancient cities have huge advantages to be models of sustainable development: they save space and journeys, they are built with local materials that have been little transformed and consume little energy… Links’s point was to say: how can we reinforce this policy in order to transform these sustainable cities into attractive cities?
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