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ICI! - Creating a vibrant community centre and involving local residents in the Ile-Saint-Denis urban renewal programme

October 2017

The ICI! non-profit took part in the Third VINCI Foundations’ Rendezvous. It works to involve local residents of the South Ile-Saint-Denis neighbourhood in the New National Urban Renewal Programme. We describe its activities.

Third VINCI Foundations’ Rendezvous took place on 9 October 2017. The event brought together public and private sector stakeholders to discuss civic initiatives in underprivileged neighbourhoods. Jérôme Vatère, head of the Woodworking shop, and Hélène Bucher, treasurer, gave a presentation of their non-profit, which works in the Île-Saint-Denis neighbourhood and receives support from the Fondation VINCI pour la Cité.

ICI! – an acronym that stands for Initiatives Construites Îlo-dionysiennes! (Dionysian island building initiatives) and also means HERE! in French – aims to "create a common language for local residents, non-profits and institutions" in the Île-Saint-Denis municipality, says Hélène Bucher. The South neighbourhood is covered by the New National Urban Renewal Programme (NPNRU), which emphasises the importance of co-construction.

The ICI! non-profit was set up at the end of 2014 to foster hands-on involvement of local residents in the life of the South neighbourhood, which is cut off from the city centre by an industrial brownfield site. ICI! focuses on architecture and on local and urban development. It is managed by young architects and has set up several types of activity.

In February 2017, the municipality made an abandoned house in the neighbourhood available to the non-profit. The ICI! team has been renovating it for several months now, using reclaimed materials and receiving regular assistance from local residents who have come together to support the project.

The goal is to create a vibrant neighbourhood centre, a place where information is provided about future projects and a workshop where local residents can work with wood, fabric and other materials on do-it-yourself renovation and construction projects. The centre will ultimately share space with other structures, such as a group of young adults from the neighbourhood who will manage a snack bar, the programme management assistant, co-workers and training structures.

Throughout all its activities, ICI! is gradually mapping the full range of local residents' skills. The map will be made available to urban renewal stakeholders to help them better involve the local population in their projects.

The support of the Fondation VINCI will make it possible to acquire the equipment needed to set up the do-it-yourself workshops. The project sponsor is Thomas Shao, a structural engineer at VINCI Construction France. He will provide technical advice for the renovation worksite and assistance in the field. He will also be able to put ICI! in touch with possible donors of Personal Protective Equipment.