‘Fabriques de territoire’

The State demonstrates its commitment to third places

At the end of a 6-month investigation involving a very large part of the target ecosystem (more than 200 interviews, working groups, 12 regions visited, etc.), and collaborating closely with recognised actors in the drafting of recommendations, the Coworking Mission officially submitted its report, entitled “Faire ensemble pour mieux vivre ensemble” (“Learning to Live Together by Working Together”), to the Secretary of State Julien Denormandie on 19 September 2018.

The report put the spotlight on a powerful national dynamic of business transformation at the territorial level.

The activities of the Coworking Mission have shown that in order to improve performance and efficiency, the many small local third places need access to strategic resource centres. This function is emerging or already present in some third places. Their age, size and vitality, the diversity of their activities, their partnerships, and the quality of their members or teams, make them a source of inspiration, advice and support for third places that are being created or venues on a smaller scale. This enables them to play a supporting, propagating and networking role within the areas they serve. However, such facilities are not yet present in most territories, particularly those outside the large metropolitan areas, as the existing third places do not wish to or are not equipped to take on these types of functions.

Today, third places have become service platforms that contribute to the vitality of all territories: rural, suburban, urban, deprived urban neighbourhoods, etc. At a time of major demographic, digital, ecological and industrial transitions, the Government has decided to support these public and private initiatives by adopting a new intervention method that does not seek to prescribe or standardise, but consists in supporting, accelerating and ‘equipping’ all the players.

To support and accelerate the development of third places at the territorial level, while guaranteeing their diversity and consolidating existing projects, the French State issued a €45-million call for expressions of interest (CEI) in 2019, to identify 300 existing or planned ‘Fabriques de Territoire’ (territorial third-place resource centres), 150 of which would be located in deprived urban neighbourhoods targeted for revitalisation under French urban policy, and 150 in rural areas.

The French State has provided €75,000 to €150,000 in support for these ‘Fabriques de Territoire’ over a three-year period, giving these centres time to consolidate their economic balance.

“Third places are actors in a citizen-based movement, bearing witness to the vitality of our territories. Whether they are shared workplaces, digital manufacturing workshops, ‘friches culturelles’ (culture factories), agricultural spaces or community cafés… these collaborative activity spaces embody the spirit of a France which, while enduring a major crisis, is showing a spirit of enterprise, and has decided to build and innovate in order to meet its societal challenges. These third places are promoting professional integration while re-establishing social links; they are combining new forms of local production with the development of new competencies; they are associating cultural creation with the creation of economic activities; they are developing hands-on learning opportunities; and they are reconciling digital inclusion with civic engagement.”

Third places are at the interface between new aspirations and ongoing transitions. 

Jacqueline Gourault, Minister for Territorial Cohesion and Relations with Local Authorities

What is a third place?

The coworking mission has highlighted the essential criteria on which the State has based its definition of a third place. There are five criteria:

Strong links with local communities

These are places that strive to meet local needs, and to this end, they engage in local cooperation by mobilising local players, public authorities, companies, associations, universities, etc.

A community of committed actors

In third places, a community of actors develops innovative projects for their territory while sharing equipment, resources and expertise.

Shared governance

All stakeholders, and especially the users of third places, are involved in defining and directing the territorial project.

Hybridisation of activities

Multiple activities are carried out and the models strike a balance between gainful activities (services, training, renting, catering, etc.) and public-interest activities (digital inclusion, re-engagement in employment, social activities, and more).

Focus on experimentation and innovation

As venues dedicated to practical initiatives and do-it-yourself activities, third places are flexible and adaptable, and therefore promote the emergence of new collective projects.

What is a ‘Fabrique de Territoire’?

Third places are physical spaces for engaging in activities together: coworking, “micro-folies” (new-generation, local cultural platforms), connected campuses, shared workshops, FabLabs, solidarity-based garages, social places, makerspaces, “friches culturelles” (culture factories), public service centres, and more… Third places are locations for developing the social links, emancipation and collective initiatives that contribute to our vitality at the local level. The nationwide roll-out of digital technologies has facilitated their development. Each place has its own specificity, its own ways of functioning, its own financing, and its own community. But all of them are venues for informal meetings, social interaction, creativity and collective projects.

Third places are physical spaces for engaging in activities together. They are places for transformations of work and the ecological transition, and promoting peer-to-peer learning, creativity and collective projects in a convivial and flexible setting.

In short, third places are where people create, train, learn, collaborate, make things, participate, and much more.

‘Fabriques de Territoire’ are territorial third-place resource centres capable of increasing the effectiveness of other third places’ actions in the communities they serve. The presence of a ‘Fabrique de Territoire’ facilitates the emergence of other smaller-scale third places in the territory concerned, particularly in medium-sized towns and rural areas, which have fewer third places than the major metropolitan areas.

The ‘Fabrique de Territoire’ is a third place and more. It is also:

  • A “resource centre” for the network of third places in the region, providing guidance to third-place project leaders, supporting them, and actively participating in the regional network of third places
  • The embodiment of a new vision of learning: “collaborative learning” (training for the industries operating in the sector, partnerships with schools and universities, creation of educational and cultural content, etc.)
  • A place to support digital upskilling:
    • supporting the digital transition of local businesses;
    • digital mediation in support of digitally deprived populations.

32 ‘Fabriques de Territoire’ rolled out in deprived urban neighbourhoods targeted for revitalision under French urban policy

Particular attention has been paid to all aspects of digital initiatives, the most remarkable of which (32 in total) will be designated as ‘Fabriques Numériques de Territoire’ (territorial digital third-place resource centres).

Access to culture and knowledge, access to rights and digital public services, training, learning to code, creation, manufacturing, civic participation and entrepreneurship are just some of the digital-technology-related activities offered by these ‘Fabriques’ to local residents and professionals. In 2019, these Fabriques Numériques de Territoire will be supported by a financial bonus of €100,000 per third place.