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Construction of an eco-hamlet in France

Sustainable and participatory urban planning in the village of Burdignes – France

Burdignes is a village of 356 inhabitants, on the border of Massif Central, in France. Perched at an altitude of 900 m, the commune is part of the Pilat Regional Natural Park. The municipal team wished to develop a new hamlet on its territory; this place of life, thought collectively, will meet the expectations of the population while respecting the environment.

Clinging to the hillside, surrounded by agricultural plots, the commune of Burdignes has chosen not to sacrifice its agricultural plots in order to extend its village. The future eco-hamlet of Mirosse, in keeping with the local tradition (dense and hillside), seeks to be exemplary with regard to the principles of sustainable development.

The Mirosse eco-hamlet project in Burdignes is the result of a long process by the municipality. The construction of an eco-hamlet brings together, around the municipal team, the inhabitants of the village, candidates for installation, local companies and institutional partners. Children from the Burdignes school were also involved in the project during an exchange with the design office team. They showed great dynamism and creativity on sustainable development issues for the future of their village. A pilot project carried out in the heart of a Natural Park, it is a place of life thought collectively.

Six years of studies, consultation, administrative procedures and a participative approach (supported by the European Leader fund) have led to the definition of the eco-hamlet's framework, with a translation into the planning permission defining the organisation of the space and the construction principles.

Wishing to protect the good agricultural land bordering the village, both to avoid penalizing the farms and to preserve the views of the village, the municipality has chosen to acquire and make a small constructible plot of woodland in the place called Mirosse. Situated one kilometre from the village, the plot is close to the water and sewerage networks.

The general principle was to enrich the project in terms of ecological construction and the use of local resources, such as wood. The companies were invited to think, right from the design phase of the project, about identifying the resources and skills available locally. Each inhabitant remains free to choose his or her own construction project, provided that it complies with Mirosse's own urban planning rules (orientations, height, distances to boundaries, parking, etc.) and with construction principles that promote energy savings, limiting the use of fossil fuels and the grey energy of construction. Priority will thus be given to compact houses, with main orientations to the south and south-east, with excellent insulation and double or triple glazing, using natural materials if possible local (wood, stone). The production of solar domestic hot water is highly recommended, with solar thermal panels integrated into the architectural project.

The hamlet has 10 building plots. An eleventh plot will be the property of the Association of Free Trade Unions (ASL) which will manage the common parts of the eco-hamlet. It is intended to receive a common house whose project has yet to be defined in co-construction by the inhabitants of Mirosse themselves. The upper part of the land will house a communal orchard and vegetable garden.

Today the eco-hamlet is finished, 19 inhabitants live on the site and develop community projects (orchard, ponds, shared garden), respecting nature and others. Between human solidarity and protection of the environment, the eco-hamlet of Mirosse resounds today, as a future solution for a development of the rural territories in the face of the global changes, in the respect of our common environment.

A lot of energy has been necessary during the 6 years of co-construction of the project, a local elected representative, during her intervention in a working group at the national assembly, shares an answer given during a public meeting to the question: why spend so much energy to build tomorrow? The answer given by the elected representative was irrefutable: because another world is possible!

By Olivier COURBON

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Links :

Documentary on the participative setting up of the eco-hamlet (in French) -

Arte report on Burdignes and its eco-hamlet (in French & German) -

Trailer "A Village in the Wind" of Jean-Louis Gonterre -

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