Atlas of Utopias 2019 : Popular Urbanism Workshop (APU)

The Popular Urbanism Workshop (APU) was created by residents in Villeneuve, Grenoble, to develop a collective alternative to the demolition of social housing and the urban transformation being imposed on their neighbourhood, and to support alternative proposals – proposals that have since influenced urban renewal in the town, and prevented some demolitions.

By developing advocacy activities, intervening in public meetings, challenging the municipal council, and organising press conferences and demonstrations, residents made public their proposals and pressed local institutions to take them into account. And through organizing local assemblies in which residents developed these proposals (disseminating them among technical staff and councillors), and through appearing in local media, residents influenced the debate.

To date, an estimated 500 people or more have been empowered to participate in at least one APU activity in Villeneuve in relation to urban planning. The most significant outcome is the incorporation of many APU proposals in the new urban renewal project, particularly in relation to the environment, education, governance and the economy. APU’s opposition strategy succeeded in preventing the demolition of social housing at 130 galerie de l’Arlequin and led to the creation of a shared garden, Terres Neuves.

« In times of rising right-wing aggressive and regressive politics, the combination of different kind of strategies to both protect and advance social justice issues at local and national level reveals a notable political maturity. The combination of resistance and support to on-going urban struggles, along with awareness raising, capacity-building and collective elaboration of community proposals is highly inspirational. »

– Lorena Zárate