Redirective Ecology : Towards Closing the Legacy of the Urbanocene.

exemple d'infrastructures urbaines zombies

In this article, published in the special issue “L’erreur est urbaine” of Urbanités magazine (#17), Bastien Marchand and Philippe Bouteyre explore the concept of redirective ecology applied to the management of urban zombie infrastructure, which refers to elements with minimal usage lifespan but maximum waste lifespan.

The redirective ecology proposes a two-step approach to rethink the city. First :  inheriting the technosphere while seeking to detach from this dependence. Then closing certain technospheric entities while taking care of vulnerable people.

The article presents an ongoing redirection initiative that considers the municipal swimming pool as a footprint of unsustainable urban habitat in the Anthropocene. It explores how understanding these attachments can help territorial communities adopt redirection strategies.

In the current energy and geostrategic context, the redirection perspective is more urgent than ever. Some communities have already taken temporary measures to close or reduce the energy consumption of their pools in response to this situation. Tourist and leisure sites, such as the Métabief ski resort, are also adopting redirection strategies. These examples are fertile areas of investigation for redirectionism.

Renouncing newbuilds in Ile-de-France to face planetary limits

newbuilds works and cranes

Renouncing newbuilds to face planetary limits? A question motivated by the climate emergency

Climate emergency, the environmental weight of real estate, the importance of the renovation effort and the upcoming trade-off between renovation and construction are now broadly recognized. Against this observation, shouldn’t we stop new construction in Ile de France to face the planetary limits? What are the environmental impacts of new construction in Ile de France? Is it feasible to stop it? What shutdown protocol should be set in motion to take into account the economic and social aspects? The study answers these questions. It limits its perimeter to the shutdown of housing, offices and shops. It excludes the following assets: production buildings, logistics buildings and public facilities. However, it takes into account the 23 million m2 of housing, offices and shops already committed or remaining to be built in Greater Paris. The study is indeed considering stopping after Greater Paris.

The enquiry about the renouncing to newbuilds is based on authoritative scenarios and studies

This study combines elements established by recognized organizations and players in the field. For feasibility, it relies on 2 scenarios. Both are based on trajectories and assumptions defined by INSEE in terms of fertility, life expectancy and migratory balances. The first one, called “Business as Usual”, reflects the trends of recent years. The second one reflects INSEE’s low assumptions for these same indicators.

Newbuilds in Ile-de-France have a strong environmental impact

To begin with, the study reveals a strong environmental impact of new construction: major for artificialization and Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions and significant for material consumption and waste generation. Putting an end to it would halve the annual regional artificialization. It would also avoid committing 8 million tonnes of GHG emissions annually. This takes into account the construction products and equipment of buildings and the emissions due to their operation. This gain is equivalent to 20% of regional annual energy-related GHG emissions. In addition, the shutdown would save 8 million tonnes of material per year, or 8% of annual local imports and extractions. For waste, this would be an 8% gain per year in regional waste with 3.4 million tonnes of waste less per year. These impacts fully justify the question of renouncing construction.

Renouncing newbuilds is feasible for offices and shops, more problematic for housing

From this, the study then questions the feasibility of the shutdown. For offices, businesses and for all scenarios, this is doable. For many sub-scenarios, there is not even a need for the new shops and offices in Greater Paris. The answer is more nuanced for housing. In the trend scenario and with low urban recycling, stopping is not possible. However, with low demographic change assumptions and greater urban recycling it becomes feasible. In any case, urban regeneration can produce a large part of it.  Mainly by transformation of wastelands and by urban renovations. To a lesser extent by horizontal densification. More marginally by vertical densification or by recycling offices and shops. This is only possible by qualitatively adapting production to the real economic capacities of Ile-de-France residents, to changes in household size and to the needs linked to pendular effects. As for the issue of the single-family house, which is very politically sensitive,  despite the proven environmental impacts, it was not retained as a preponderant factor.

Flex-office, teleworking and the cost of offices significantly reduce the need for office space

For offices, the study examines various factors that may influence floor space requirement. Demography is taken into account through the 2 demographic scenarios of INSEE. We have not found any tangible signs that the share of the labor force, the share of the office labor force, may change. As a precaution, we have not ruled out the vacant office lever for stopping new construction. However, we have observed a strong trend in 3 phenomena: flex office, teleworking and the cost of offices which, when combined, make it possible to significantly reduce the required office space. So much so that today there is the problem of overproduction and over-supply of offices, amplified by Greater Paris, which provides for many offices.

The evolution of e-commerce is the most important factor for businesses

Then, concerning shops, in addition to the evolution of demography in Ile de France taken into account in the two scenarios, the evolution of commercial vacancies, commercial density (in m2 of shops per inhabitant) and tourism, due to its particular role in the Ile de France region, play on the need for retail space to be built. But it is the impact of the evolution of e-commerce that is the most important factor. This alone justifies that building new businesses is not necessary, in all scenarios.

Demographics and number of housing units built per household are the key factors in reducing the need for housing surface area.

The conclusions on housing are based first of all on the examination of levers that make it possible to reduce the surface area to be built. Demographics are the most important factor. But one factor seems key, much more than tourism, second homes, the size of housing, the aging of the population and the vacancy of housing. This is the number of dwellings built per new household. Today we are building almost twice as many additional households. Acting on this ratio would allow a significant reduction in the number of housing units to be built.

Urban regeneration offers also reduce the need for new housing construction

Finally, solutions exist to meet housing needs without building, and therefore through the urban regeneration mentioned above: recovery of wasteland, urban renewal, horizontal and vertical densification, recycling of offices and shops. The study also identified emerging offers such as co-living, intergenerational housing and so-called “invisible” land.

What to do with the 210,000 new construction jobs in Ile de France?

With the proven environmental impact and the feasibility of the shutdown verified, the study then examines the question of the social and economic feasibility of this transformation. Ecological redirection attaches major importance to these aspects. What to do with the 210,000 new construction jobs? How to shift the economy from the building industry from construction to renovation. The first is now split equally between construction and renovation. In the renovation economy, we would only have 20% of new construction activity and 80% of renovation activity. Three main avenues can be identified for this. First of all: the decarbonisation of energy linked to the existing fleet. Then: the energy renovation of the existing park. Finally, the urban renewal of cities, notably with renovations linked to changes in lifestyles, such as electric mobility.

Difficult political feasibility and worldviews hamper the process

Stopping new construction is politically difficult. For good reasons : the economic weight of the real estate sector, its diffuse nature, a high number of players. Without mentioning the delicate question of social housing and the importance of local participation in housing policy. Also, visions of the world hamper the process of stopping construction. For instance : the race for international attractiveness or the orientation towards newbuild in real estate professions.

But a well-engaged dynamic goes in the direction of stopping

Nevertheless, a dynamic already underway favors the switch to renovation. The more aggressive policy of zero net artificialization, changes in town planning rules, stricter supervision of mortgage loans are all effective tools for controlling and reducing new construction. We can fully imagine that these trends will continue. In addition, a good number of new approaches such as functional diversity, the reversibility of buildings, questioning of architecture and architects and reflections on new property regimes go in the direction of stopping in favor of profit. of the renovation.

The study on stopping new construction therefore highlights a fundamental trend that will now have to be organized.

To sum up, the study highlights underlying trends already at work and proposes recommendations. It thus shows that the Greater Paris project must be reviewed, that the development of office and retail space must be the subject of vigilance. If approaches to sobriety and circular town planning are already being developed and it remains to implement support for actors towards an economy of renovation and to specify the methods of defining low-key needs.

Background and authors of the study

This study was carried out as part of an ecological redirection commission by Arp Astrance at the Msc Design & Strategy for the Anthropocene. Hervé Moal (Loma Management on behalf of Arp Astrance) is at the origin of this visionary questioning. He and two master’s students: Philippe Bouteyre (Praxilience) and William van Gelderen Plannier are the authors.

The Msc Design & Strategy for the Anthropocene is the world’s first course in ecological redirection. Ecological redirection starts from the observation of the Anthropocene to land organizations within planetary limits. Even if it means closing certain deleterious activities or preventing others from happening. For this, the approach is based on the investigation and the design, making it possible to get as close as possible to the actors to make the redirection feasible and to come out “by the top (as little as possible)” (A.Monnin, 2021) of this situation. Finally, this approach intends to go beyond those, resolutely ineffective, of sustainable development, CSR and green growth.


The full summary of the study is available on request.

Ecological redirection : give up new construction ?

Conference on ecological redirection

Should we, to land within planetary limits, give up the new construction of certain assets in Île-de-France in favor of the overall renovation of the stock of buildings ?

Is it feasible to stop new construction in Ile de France? What renunciation protocol to initiate so that this goes as well as possible? This is the theme of an ecological redirection enquiry. Alexandre Monnin, Herve Moal and Philippe Bouteyre (Praxilience) presented the results during the climate day organized by the APCC on November 3, at the Salon des Élus et Décideurs des Territoires d’Ile-de-France SELIF. The company Arp Astrance ordered this study to the Msc “Strategy & Design for the Anthropocene”. They entrusted its execution to Hervé Moal (Loma Management for Arp Astrance), Philippe Bouteyre (Praxilience) and William van Gelderen.

Ecological redirection, a path to explore:

Ecological redirection is taught by the MSc “Strategy & Design for the Anthropocene”. Alexandre Monnin, its director, described what it consists of: “Ecological redirection is an ecological strategy that has not yet been explored: an approach which acts on the ruptures required by remaining within planetary limits. It is a question of getting out from the top (as high as possible) of a tension that can be summed up as follows : more and more of us  are depending in the short term on models and infrastructures (the Technosphere) that threaten the habitability of the Earth in the medium term. The challenge is therefore to know how to inherit what we are diversely attached to and to invent technical and democratic means to land / close / disaffect-reassign unsustainable realities. ” Alexandre Monnin, Diego Landivar and Emmanuel Bonnet develop these concepts further in their essay “Heritage et Fermetures” (Editions Divergences).

New construction: a strong environmental impact

New construction has a strong impact on the environment: major in terms of artificialization and major in terms of CO2 emissions and very significant in terms of material consumption and waste generation. There is therefore an urgent need: to stop new construction.

Stopping construction is feasible to some extent

Based on this observation, is stopping new construction in Ile de France feasible? The answer is yes in commerce, yes in the office, not completely in housing. However, construction in housing can be greatly reduced by initiating urban regeneration efforts.

According to which renunciation protocol?

The study then looks at the economic and social aspects of this transformation. Indeed, ecological redirection attaches major importance to economic and societal issues. What to do with the 210,000 new construction jobs? The economy of the building sector is now split equally between construction and renovation. How can we switch it towards an economy of renovation where we would only have 20% of activity linked to new constructions and 80% of activity linked to renovation? There are three main avenues for this: the decarbonisation of energy linked to the existing stock, the energy renovation of the existing stock, the urban renewal of cities with in particular renovations linked to changes in lifestyles. **

Despite political and cosmological obstacles, there is no lack of tools and new approaches and visions of the world to promote the switch from construction to renovation. These levers are detailed in the study.

Ecological redirection

The study highlights underlying trends that have already started. It allows recommendations to be made. We must review the Grand Paris project. We must be vigilant in the face of the development of office and retail space. Certainly, approaches to sobriety and circular town planning are already being developed. However, it remains to implement support for actors towards an economy of renovation. It is also necessary to specify the modes of definition of sober needs

We are facing the climate emergency. The necessary transformations  are gigantic. It is therefore legitimate to seek to strengthen our way of acting with new ecological strategies. This example on the theme of stopping new construction shows it: ecological redirection represents an operational framework in the Anthropocene and a path to explore.

More details

Replay and slides of the presentation.

Study synthesis to come.

Contact us.

Engaging in ecological redirection in organizations and territories

Horizons Publics Engager la redirection écologique

Special edition “Engaging in ecological redirection in organizations and territories”

What is ecological redirection? Any method for engaging in ecological redirection?  Why talk about redirection rather than transition, sustainable development, or corporate social responsibility? How can this new approach be useful to better consider planetary limits and deal with the situation of the Anthropocene? Which organizations and local communities are already exploring this new way of designing strategies and public policies?


This issue was produced in partnership with the 26 students of the 2020-2021 class of the MSc “Strategy and Design for the Anthropocene”. This training, which is unique in France, prepares the future generation of “redirectionists” in companies, public organizations and in the regions.

It contains feature articles on the theme of ecological redirection. It also includes examples of redirection work, including one dealing with the renunciation of sports infrastructures and new construction.

1st round table on biodiversity in cities and businesses

Weekend, rich in discussions around biodiversity in the city, organized by Yves Emo and bringing together professionals and experts on the subject of biodiverstity

At La Rougellerie, Loir et Cher, Chaumont-sur-Tharonne,  William Van Gelderen Plannier and Philippe Bouteyre (Praxilience) presented the device they designed to take biodiversity seriously in the context of neighborhood planning. This system uses innovative concepts taught by the Msc Design and Strategy for the Anthropocene carried by ESC Clermont Business School and Strate, Ecole de Design de Lyon and directed by Alexandre Monnin. It was tested as part of their ecological redirection project for ARP Astrance on the subject of new construction in Ile de France.

The Anthropocene as a framework and starting point for ecological redirection

The Master of Science “Strategy & Design for the Anthropocene” is the first training in the world with an operational aim that takes the Anthropocene as its framework and starting point. This master trains in ecological redirection. It is based on the design approach, which

Présentation par William et Philippe

is based on the inquiry process. The concept of the Anthropocene designates a new geological epoch marked by the consequences of human activities. Climate change  and the erosion of biodiversity are markers of this epoch. Ecological redirection starts from the observation that approaches such as green growth, sustainable development or CSR are outdated. The “redirectionists” therefore help

companies and institutions to imagine new strategies to align with planetary boundaries. This means taking into account the ecological and climatic constraints linked to the Anthropocene. Even if it means closing certain activities that threaten the habitability of the Earth.

An investigation process that pays attention to a plurality of visions on issues to be discovered

Design is green redirection, which is inquiry. This is in order to better understand the uncertainties of human and non-human actors. Through the investigation, it is above all a question, starting from the reality on the ground, of paying attention to a plurality of visions on the issues that are to be discovered. It is about shedding light on blind spots, making attachments visible, highlighting antagonisms and complementarities. In practice, the survey work requires carrying out interviews and bibliographic research. It requires absorbing all of these elements with a time of reflection and maturation before being able to render in the form that best allows us to move forward.

An investigation into the cessation of new construction in Ile de France.

Arp Astrance is an agency specializing in the field of real estate. It is made up of 4 poles, one of which specializes in biodiversity. It is therefore for this agency that William and Philippe are investigating the stoppage of new construction in Ile de France. In this survey, taking biodiversity into account is a key element. This is for several reasons: first, to reduce the impact outside the city by limiting urban sprawl. Urban densification is therefore an important lever. Because it makes it possible to limit the impacts on biodiversity. But it contains perverse effects. Indeed, densification can strengthen the impact on urban biodiversity. The collapse of biodiversity is taking place in natural environments as well as in cities. There is therefore a risk of adaptation to climate change. For this reason, it is essential to find new approaches to take biodiversity into account in urban development.

A device to take seriously all the actors and their human or non-human modes of making sense

The workshop device designed by William and Philippe allows precisely this to be taken into account. Indeed its principle is that of a role-playing game and design fiction at the same time. In addition, it is a question of making people think about the development of a district by placing oneself in a future framework and by borrowing specific roles, some of which may seem unusual : the mayor, the real estate renovator, the tit, the buildings, future generations. It is therefore an invitation to take seriously all the actors and their modes of production of meaning, whether they are humans or non-humans. Even if it may seem irrational at first glance. The prospective framework allows the debates to take place over a long period of time, which is relevant for developing a neighborhood. This has been successfully tested with the Arp Astrance board of directors.

William and Philippe plan to continue to develop this type of device. They wish to offer it by adapting it to communities that would like to experiment this approach. If interested contact them directly.

Introduction to Systems of Systems at CentraleSupelec

Friday, March 26, 2021 Yann Chazal and Philippe Bouteyre had the honor to share their interest in Systems of Systems with 35 engineering students in the final year of CentraleSupelec university. This intervention was the first one of a teaching module created by Andreas Makoto Hein for the CentraleSupelec. This module, specially dedicated to Systems of Systems, is a novelty in engineering training.

Yann and Philippe explained what they understood from this topic, showed application examples and offered recommendations from their experience.

Companies are increasingly confronted, consciously or not, with contexts related to Systems of Systems.

But what is hiding behind this “Systems of Systems” concept?

In reality, we can see:

  • A particular type of complex system with characteristics giving rise to difficulties (macro impacts, collaborations, integration) or risks (acceptability, uncertainties, resilience).
  • An operational methodology that can be integrated into business processes, extending and adapting “model-based” systems engineering practices.
  • An approach to structure our thinking, position it in evolution, integrate more interactions of different nature and scale.

It is therefore an approach that contributes to strategic thinking;  it helps you find your way around and orient yourself. This practice is supported by a dynamic community, however, it remains relatively recent and not very visible. Finally, it gives rise to fascinating open questions that remain to be explored. These are questions related to the dynamics of evolution of Systems of Systems, their dependence on their environment, their cycles, their possible bifurcations, their aptitude for self-organization according to the modes of governance and the role taken by humans. These are keys to a know-how that remains largely to be acquired by economic players.

Since August 22, humanity has been living on credit … It’s time to take a Bilan Carbone®.

natural carbon sink

According to the Global Footprint Network, since August 22 (day of the overrun), humanity has been living on ecological credit. It consumes, pollutes and emits greenhouse gas emissions at a tremendous rate. So much so that the biosphere cannot keep up.

Fortunately, solutions exist! In a very complete infographic, ADEME explains the issues. They also recommend a set of good practices.

To calculate the ecological footprint of your personal activity, the Global Footprint Network provides a calculator. This one is very easy to use. But for an organization, it is obviously more complex. In this case, it is better to contact a carbon accounting professional to seriously initiate a low-carbon transition with a Bilan Carbone®.

Meet us at PRODURABLE !

Plans de Transition

Today, the “transition plans” replace the obligatory “reduction actions” in the realization of the carbon footprint accounting reporting.

This results from the article 28 of law n ° 2019-1147 relating to energy and climate of November 8, 2019.

Praxilience will co-host on behalf of APCC the workshop dedicated to these new transition plans during the PRODURABLE event on September 8, 2020. We look forward to seeing you there!

This is a continuation of the APPC note “Learning lessons from the COVID-19 crisis to better prepare for the climate challenge“.


“System of Systems” concept for modeling sustainability

Feuilles vertes

In this column from France Stratégie, Yann Chazal tells us about an original and innovative approach to modeling.

This approach is based on the concept of “Systems of Systems”. It is also particularly suited to the development of low-carbon adaptation strategies at the territorial level.

Yann is an expert in complex systems engineering at Renault.

Interview conducted by Julien Bueb and Carole Cocault

Before discussing what “systems of systems” are, what do you think modeling is?

“A model is an approximation of reality”. I am comfortable with this definition. She spontaneously suggests adapting the level of approximation to just the necessary what one needs to study. However, when one is forced not to ignore the dimension complex of reality – this is obviously the case in the question of sustainability -, the practice the most common is to identify interactions, represent them in the form of laws of often nonlinear behavior and interweaving them. I obviously respect the modelers who subscribe to this practice, not only because it requires them a lot of knowledge and know-how, but also because there are real pitfalls. Indeed, the interactions that can be envisaged are limitless, and can also be based on relationships implied. Insofar as their hierarchy of importance is not previously established, the modeler always wonders about the necessary enrichment of his model. Otherwise, constitutive laws are often proposed by experts, but the modeler must also appropriate their limits of validity to make reasoned use of them in his model.

Read more…

Learn from the COVID-19 crisis to better prepare for the climate challenge

Light-house in the storm

The Covid19 health crisis reminded us of the systemic nature of the major issues of our time.

The APCC memo, to which PRAXILIENCE contributed, proposes measures to make the actions of professionals in climate, energy and environment consulting more effective. One of the proposal is about developing a culture of prevention and risk management in a systemic approach.


The professionals in climate, energy and environment consultancy, brought together within the APCC (Association of Professionals in Climate Energy and Environment Consulting), provide daily support to private companies, public structures, local authorities and territories. Their mission is to identify risks, in particular regarding energy and climate issues, anticipate them and prepare to face them.

The current health crisis challenges us with its brutality and reminds us that the major problems of our time (climate change, energy, environment, health, food security, deforestation and globalization of production) cannot be understood in isolation. They are systemic, interconnected and interdependent. Our society is little trained to understand this type of problem.

Read more