Post-COVID cities : continuity, transformation or break-away ?




Panel Discussion

What is an urban innovation and what does the crisis caused by the pandemic tell us about it? How are urban regimes of innovation supported, transformed or discussed?

Charles Ambrosino discussed urban innovation regimes (demonstration, exploration and transformation). All cities innovate, but not everyone is equal over time. The way of innovating is not the same everywhere and this influences the capacity of a territory to stand out in innovation. After the planning and urban project phases, we are now in a phase of experimentation.

Experimentation does not necessarily mean innovation. Innovation is coordinated over a longer period of time while experimentation is created over a shorter period of time within the framework of a prototype.

François Ménard explained the meaning of the word innovation, which in his conception is seen from the “old world” viewpoint and is essentially carried out by the private sector when the public sector, for its part, must allow operators to innovate. However, in recent years, we have seen the emergence of calls for innovative projects that allow us to “Reinvent” cities. The innovation is therefore part of the procedural framework associating the public and the private sector. Innovation must achieve progress, which is not always the case today, even if actors from Nantes are moving the lines.


“Cities must seek their resilience”.

Montserrat Pareja spoke about the health crisis of last spring. While the cities were mainly organised in a top-down manner, an innovation has emerged, that of unorganised action. In the neighbourhoods, the inhabitants were able to help each other and find their own resilience thanks to COVID-19. We moved from an individualistic society to cities where everyone could get involved.

This period of confinement was also very rich for research. Emmanuelle Gangloff and Hélène Morteau carried out monitoring and analysis work on the COVID crisis. While the more a city is optimised and the less resilient it is, the notion of reversibility is just as important in this work. This has made it possible to offer the most precarious people emergency accommodation, for example. This crisis has been an accelerator for subjects already identified.

Jean Luc Charles, Managing Director of the SAMOA, has outlined the possible path that the Ile de Nantes could take following this crisis. To this end, 60 players in the field of cultural and creative industries met in order to make a diagnosis and draw up scenarios to envisage the future of the Ile de Nantes.

Julie Laernoes pointed out that all this work, whether done at local, national or European level, is important in the field of urban innovation. Even if Nantes Métropole is inspired by other cities, not everything is reproducible. It is also essential for cities to be able to lobby to make their voices heard and thus bring about the development of a more social innovation, such as has been brought about by this award.



  • Julie Laernoes

    Julie Laernoes, Vice-President of Nantes Metropole for Energy and Climate

  • Jean-Luc Charles

    Director-General of the SAMOA

  • Hélène Morteau

    Doctor of urban planning at PACTE University of Grenoble Alpes

  • Emmanuelle Gangloff

    Doctor of art and urban planning

  • Montserrat Pareja-Eastaway

    Professor at the Autonomous University of Barcelona

  • Charles Ambrosino

    Senior Lecturer at the University of Grenoble Alpes

  • François Ménard

    Program Coordinator : Urban governance from/through innovation, for the PUCA - Plan Urbain Construction Architecture

  • Dominique Sagot-Duvauroux

    Scientific Co-Leader of the SCAENA program

  • Laurent Devisme

    Professor at ENSAN

  • Raphaël Suire

    Professor at University of Nantes

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