METROFORUM – Chair for Metropolitan Transitions (Lille Urban School)

METROFORUM is a space for meeting and dialogue which aims to bring together a plurality of actors (academics, urban practitioners, students) around urban and metropolitan issues. We particularly mobilise the multidimensional concept of ‘transitions’ within our considerations and activities.

This transition must be understood as a global phenomenon, both historical and territorial. This phenomenon has a particularly significant dimension locally, in Lille, as the post-industrial mutation of a productive region and metropolis, but also the public health crisis and its consequences, constitute crucial issues relating to their territorial trajectories.

In this context, which we want to consider as mobilising and stimulating, we will be careful to also invest in the transversal question of dwelling, understood in its broadest sense.


The purpose and missions of the Chair

The vocation of this Chair is primarily academic. Its purpose is to serve the students of the following universities and Grandes Ecoles in Lille: the University of Lille (in particular the Institute of Urban Planning and Geography of Lille, Polytech’Lille, the Faculty of Economic, Social and Territorial Sciences and the Faculty of Legal, Political and Social Sciences), the Higher National School of Architecture and Landscape of Lille and the Political Studies Institute (Sciences po) of Lille.

The Chair also aims to build a system for producing knowledge, expertise and innovation for the Lille metropolitan area, in the service and support of local authorities. The principle of METROFORUM is therefore based on the mutual interest of academic structures and civil society in collaborating on common projects by capitalising on a tradition of excellent quality dialogue. The aim is to feed a debate that is currently too sparse, to initiate innovative and decompartmentalized projects, to encourage observation and experimentation and to open a chair on applied transitions, with a prospective approach.

The Chair’s mission is to stimulate cooperation between existing courses, to encourage new collaborations based on multidisciplinarity (apprenticeships, double degrees, etc.), and to provide better training for urban planning and development professionals. It will promote work on the key issues of metropolisation (relocation, land and economic dynamics, housing and habitat, mobility) and its transitions. It will initiate or promote the experimentation of socio-technical solutions in response to the challenges of transition around demonstrators, and will encourage and lead a broad local scene of public debate between the territory’s actors, the various authorities and civil society.


METROFORUM activities: “Productive metropolis and territorial resilience

The issue of the productive metropolis is both highly topical and capable of associating a wide range of actors within collaborative and transdisciplinary projects with key issues for the territory:

  • the production-distribution-consumption logistics chain, on a metropolitan scale (last kilometre, internet logistics) or more broadly on a trans-regional and cross-border scale (Seine-North canal, Eurometropole Lille-Courtrai-Tournai), the linkage of the metropolis with extra-urban forms of production (agriculture, short circuits, food self-sufficiency).
  • industrial relocation in the city in a context of fragmentation of production chains, robotisation (factory 4.0) and micromanufacturing (fablabs, makerspaces).
  • More fundamentally, the question of reconstituting a productive capacity for a region that has left an industrial cycle is being asked over a longer period of time.

However, the mapping of research and training in these thematic sectors reveals an archipelago in which isolates emerge, around certain high-performance flagship training courses (architecture, engineering, urban planning, etc.), scientific leaders who are a little out of the ordinary, or targeted scientific programmes, of the research and development type, directly linked to the actors of the territory (Habitat 2030, Observation Platform for Urban Projects and Strategies, Programme d’Investissement d’Avenir on Metropolitan Youth, Metropolitan Revolution, TRI, etc.). The potential is paradoxical in that it is both real and fragile: it suffers from a lack of visibility in the Lille area and yet has high-level expertise on strategic subjects.

Around these themes, a double challenge of multidisciplinary federations and articulation between research and teaching, around the development of new technologies, is to be met. The Chair’s activities are designed to respond to this dual challenge by offering several scientific and educational highlights:

  • A cycle of conferences in 2021-2022: “Productive metropolis and territorial resilience”

The conference cycle is an opportunity to hear and discuss specialists from different disciplines on research issues related to the productive metropolis and territorial resilience, which will shed light on local public action and students in various courses related to urban issues. Amongst these themes, let us mention as central those relating to logistics (in terms of zoning and transport, for example), functional mix and the renewal of production sites, risks and vulnerabilities and the social changes experienced by workers with significant spatial and urban repercussions (uberisation, development of industrial jobs outside the productive sector, amongst others).


  • A multidisciplinary workshop in September 2021: “Thinking and designing the Metropolitan Campus

The workshop, conceived as a pedagogical highlight, aims to bring students together in an inter-university and interdisciplinary setting. Scheduled to last three days and to take place in several universities in the metropolis, this workshop offers a collaborative and intensive mode to a selection of students from the courses concerned. The approach takes into account the fragmentation of the higher education sites in the Lille metropolis as well as their own urban dynamics and integration (Roubaix, Villeneuve-d’Ascq, Tourcoing, Lille, etc.): which university “common worlds” are possible and shared? What is the urban dimension of the sites?  What are the perspectives and utopias in the light of foreign experiences, among others? The workshop aims to set in motion a large community of interventions and specialists and a strong disciplinary mix of students, in an intensive mode of design specific to “project-based” training.

The first METROFORUM workshop took place on 16, 17 and 18 September. Multidisciplinary, multisite and convivial, this workshop brought together just over thirty students from the three partner institutions around the theme: “Invent the metropolitan campuses of tomorrow”. The programme included field visits, a meal and an exhibition at the Baazar St So, collaborative work and a presentation at the Imaginarium of the Plaine Image in Tourcoing before a jury made up of professionals from higher education, planning and student life. The students were able to propose six prospective projects for the metropolitan campuses of tomorrow, giving pride of place to living together, to nature, to shared governance and to the pooling of buildings and teaching, based on three main themes: “Living in the university metropolis”, “University temporalities” and “Building metropolitan campuses”.


Governance and partnerships of METROFORUM

METROFORUM associates three levels of governance:

  • A steering committee: a representative of the following institutions: FaSEST, ENSPAL, IEP, I-SITE ULNE
  • An academic college: steering committee and representatives of the following faculties and schools: FaSEST, Polytech’Lille and FSJPS
  • A circle of different partners: local authorities, regional government departments, engineering structures, universities, associations.


Contact: Camille Mortelette, Coordinator and facilitator, Chair for Metropolitan Transitions