Paris, France

Photo by CAUE de Paris.

Innovative and Collaborative Solution

How does the initiative show evidence of feasibility, including on-going financial and logistical support?

As the project has been running since 2018 without interruption, it has already proven the relevance of its implementation and the capacity of the city of Paris and its partners to implement it. It lies on an ongoing and evolving process of adjustment that allows the identification of new technical solutions, the strengthening of the place of nature and the transformation of professional practices. The feasibility is also assured by a constant interaction between the European Union, the Public Sector, the private sector, the counselling sector and civil society stakeholders on a local scale, as it has been explained on the precedent points.

Finally, the project has also received strong political support from the beginning, which has allowed it to be promoted and displayed, and has also made it possible to assign it a dedicated budget and to mobilise the City of Paris’ services. The financial funds of the project are assured by the City of Paris, the State and the Seine Normandy Water Agency. Between 2019 and 2021, the Oasis project was co-financed by the Urban Innovative Actions (UIA) program of the EU European Regional Development Fund. The yearly budget is of 10 M€, for an average of 25 schools intervened per year.

In what ways is the initiative innovative?

Oasis innovation lies in the holistic dimension of the project, and the co-benefit concept. The project is dealing with climatic, social, and educative issues. Interdisciplinary teams work on the main claims of the project, from different perspectives. On one hand, the fight against the urban heat island effect is materialized in the de-impermeabilization of schoolyard’s soils, the suppression of asphalt areas, and the soil remediation (treatment of pollutants stocked underground from former land uses of the area). In parallel, the plantation of indigenous species (more than 50%) is mandatory, and new hosting spots for small fauna species are created. A dynamic on existing material’s upcycling and reuse has been implemented in some of the transformed schoolyards. On the other hand, a brand-new initiative of the city has been implemented, by the creation of new semi-public places on Saturdays -through the schoolyards’ opening- as a catalyst for social cohesion. This action seeks to foster inter-generational relationships in the neighbourhood, as the newly transformed schoolyards are suggesting many activities that promote shared activities for local residents of all ages. Finally, the transformations of the schoolyards are designed through participatory workshops and implemented with a broad interaction of multiple stakeholders and users: students, teachers, extra-curricular teams, parents, and local administration. The Oasis projects are a great opportunity for the whole school communities to discover and to learn together to conceive and use a schoolyard through an innovative way.

How is the initiative supported by collaborative working across disciplines and sectors?

The Oasis project is an interdisciplinary project. Along the process, several sectors and stakeholders intervene. A back-and-forth dynamic is created between:

  • The public sector: the main coordination of the project belongs the City of Paris. Cross-expertise from several Departments (Education, Green and Technical Departments) of the city are mobilized. Educators, architects, engineers, civil engineers, environmental experts and biologists put their knowledges and perspective into the project, concerning aspects like needs and benefits for the children, design of the new schoolyards, rainwater management technical solutions, greening possibilities, construction works etc.
  • The counselling sector: a sustained alliance has been made with the Architectural, Urban Planning and Environmental Council (CAUE). This stakeholder implements participatory and co-creation workshops with children and pedagogical teams. Social geographers, hydrologists, climatic researchers from academic laboratories are leading studies and impact monitoring processes for the project and advising the City of Paris.
  • The associative sector (free-collaboration legally constituted groups of civilians) proposes recreational activities for children and their families during opening hours on Saturdays.
  • The private sector carries construction works in the schoolyards, in the frame of public

These different actors put their skills at the service of the project. The combination of these different expertise through project reviews, operational meetings, experience sharing, and joint training is a guarantee of continuous improvement. The City of Paris and its partners are therefore implementing a genuine shared management process that allows for the joint search for new solutions.

How does the initiative demonstrate evidence of community support?          

There is a large variety of stakeholders involved through the process. The schoolyard’s transformation process starts with co-design phases with the children. Students have given positive feedback, by recognising the importance for them to be taken into account and being able to express their desires and opinions for their playground. Their insights on the project’s benefits have been recorded in the CAUE videos, photos and models made during workshops and have been used for the design phase.

Then, the professional community, mainly the academical teams (teachers, curricular and extra-curricular staff, animators), are involved in the design process. After the transformation, they can integrate the new elements of the schoolyard in their courses’ programs, making them more dynamic, and exploring the possibility of outdoor courses for example.

Finally, the local community, as well as the students and their families can enjoy these schoolyards on Saturdays. In some schoolyards, inhabitants have been involved in participatory construction workshops (plantation, small wood amenities setting up,)

The feedback from the different stakeholders shows the importance of associating them to the project’s phases. The participatory dimension of the project is also a guarantee of success for the transformation of the schoolyards.