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Sustainable mobilities in peri-urban areas?

Des mobilités durables dans le périurbain, est-ce possible ?

Which lifestyles in the alter-urbain / suburban rural / citta diffusa / Zwischenstadt?

Quels modes de vie dans l’alter-urbain / suburban-rural / citta diffusa / Zwischenstadt ?

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Published on Thursday, November 15, 2012


Can peri-urban areas become privileged spaces of adaptability to the economic, energy and climate crises of the 21st century? This is the question that will be discussed during the 2nd International Meeting of Mobile Lives Forum, January 24th and 25th, 2013 at the Maison Rouge (Paris 12ème). This Meeting seeks to question the image of peri-urban areas as unliveable, unbearable and without qualities or urbanness. Researchers, professionals and artists will defend their views of the different lifestyles these areas give birth to and potential they offer in terms of sustainable mobility. The audience will be invited to actively participate in the discussion.



Urban sprawl has been repeatedly criticized. Unlike compact cities – those hubs of European urban civilization that continue to be extolled by proponents of sustainable development, as they are allegedly more energy efficient - peri-urban areas are seemingly places of dispersion and ravenous consumers of energy, nature and farmlands. A built space lacking qualities of architecture and urban planning, bereft of veritable urbanity and amenities, the peri-urban is seen as a refuge for the modest middle classes that have been chased from the city by real estate prices, a place of weak, labile social ties where “self-segregation” thrives. It is also considered space of apolitical impotence reinforced by communal fragmentation and electoral volatility. A space created by the car, for the car, where the use of public transportation is not suited. Such arguments regarding peri-urban areas are regularly taken up by the media and certain renowned architects.

Today, researchers seem to be challenging this view by hypothesizing that this space is in fact much more complex and diverse, giving rise to a number of concepts to better grasp it: alter-urban, suburban, rings, périurbain, péri-urbain, citta diffusa, Zwischenstadt, etc. This could be another way for modern societies to spatialize themselves, not necessarily in conflict with compact cities but in coexistence and complementarity. This space would appear less harmful than they make it out to be. Maybe it could even become a place of scalability to the economic, energy and environmental crises of the 21st century—in some ways a sustainable alternative to the urban.

We would like to explore this hypothesis in terms of mobilities by comparing the perspectives of researchers, artists, elected officials and transportation professionals. On what mobilities is peri-urban life today established? Can we envisage “good, sustainable lives” in these spaces, in light of energy, environmental and economic challenges? Does the notion of peri-urban will also still make sense? Should we use a different term?

This is what we intend to explore over these two days.  


 Moderator for the event: Sylvain Kahn, Broadcast Planète Terre (France Culture)

Thursday, January 24th

 8:30-9:00 Welcome coffee

9:00-9:20 A presentation of the Mobile Lives Forum, Bernard Emsellem (SNCF)  and Vincent Kaufmann (Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne)

Peri-urban(s) / urban alternative / ville diffuse: the reality behind the stereotypes

9:20-10:45 What is the peri-urban for you? a film by Jean Milon

  • Analysis of media discourse on the peri-urban, Gérard Billard and Arnaud Brennetot (Université de Rouen)
  • Lifestyles in peri-urban areas and city suburbs as seen by French, U.S. and European TV series. Video montage presented and commentated on by Ioanis Deroide (Sciences Po Paris).
  • Cartographic representation of statistical definitions of the peri-urban citta diffusa / Zwischenstadt, etc., Martin Schuler (Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne)
  • Peri-urban areas in the city? Newcastle: the peri-urban defined by the creative class, Kevin Hannam and James Whiting (University of Sunderland)

10:45-11:45 Round table discussion

moderated by Marie-Christine Jaillet (Université Toulouse 2- Le Mirail) :

  • Annie Fourcaut (Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne),
  • Emmanuel Roux (Université Joseph Fourier Grenoble 1),
  • Paola Pucci (Politecnico di Milano),
  • Thomas Sieverts (Europan), to be confirmed

11:45-12:30 Open discussion with the audience and Internet users

12:30-2:00 Lunch

On what mobilities are peri-urban lifestyles and France and abroad based?

2:00-2:30  Introduction with the peri-urban experience of two artists : Justin Bennett (United Kingdom) and Maria Thereza Alves (Brazil)

 2:30-3:30 Peri-urban mobilities: a comprehensive overview

Moderator: Jean-Pierre Orfeuil (Institut d’Urbanisme de Paris)

  • Multipolarization of jobs, population dynamics and the home-work mobility of peri-urban dwellers, Anne Aguilera and Benoit Conti (Université Paris-Est)
  • Towards a diversification of mobility practices of peri-urban dwellers? Claire Aragau (Université Paris Ouest), Martine Berger (Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne) and Séverine Bonnin-Oliveira (Université Toulouse Le Mirail)
  • A typology of peri-urban lifestyles, Rodophe Dodier (Université d'Aix-Marseille)

3:30-4:00 Open discussion with the audience and Internet users

4:00-4:45 Mobility in peri-urban areas at different stages of life

Moderator: Francis Beaucire (Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne)

  • The unequal mastery of mobility of young peri-urban dwellers, Mireille Bouleau, Alix Cariou, Lucile Mettetal and Jean Teiller (Institut d’Aménagement et d’Urbanisme Ile-de-France)
  • The mobility of telecommuters in peri-urban areas of Toulouse, Patricia Sajous (Université du Havre)
  • The“walkability” of new housing for the elderly in urban fringes, Sébastien Lord and Paula Negron-Poblete (Université de Montréal)

4:45-5:15 Open discussion with the audience and Internet users

5:15-5:45 Break

5:45-6:30 Peri-urban dwellers and energy issues

Moderator: Francis Beaucire (Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne)

  • Peri-urban households and energy and climate concerns: economic and symbolic violence, Leslie Belton-Chevallier (Institut français des sciences et technologies des transports, de l’aménagement et des réseaux) and Yves Jouffe (Ecole Nationale des Ponts et Chaussées)
  • Energy vulnerability and the coping strategies of peri-urban dwellers’, Mireille Bouleau, Alix Cariou, Lucile Mettetal and Jean Teiller (Institut d’Aménagement et d’Urbanisme Ile-de-France)
  • The resourcefulness of poor peri-urban households in Zimbabwe and their energy and transportation needs, Innocent Chirisa (University of Zimbabwe)

 6:30-7:00 Open discussion with the audience and Internet users

7:00-7:30 Guided tour of the exhibit on peri-urban areas

Irène Aristizabal, curator of the art exhibit.

7:30-10:00 Artistic event and cocktail party

Friday, January 25th

8:30-9:00 Welcome coffee

Good lives in peri-urban areas: a sustainable alternative to the urban?

9:00-9:15 The future of the peri-urban as depicted in works of fiction

A reading of excerpts from works that anticipate possible futures in sparsely-populated areas.

9:15-10:45 Dispute: Can peri-urban areas withstand the energy, economic and climate crises?

  • Jacques Lévy (Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne),
  • Eric Charmes (Université de Lyon),
  • Yves Crozet (Université de Lyon)
  • and Alain Grandjean (Carbone 4), to be confirmed

10:45-11:15 Open discussion with the audience and Internet users

11:15-11:30 Break

11:30-12:30 Peri-urban areas’ potential in terms of changing ways of moving

  • Organizing the dispersed city around train stations: beyond the model, what development practices to employ at the local scale?, Juliette Maulat (Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne)
  • The potential of bicycle use in peri-urban areas, Frédéric Héran (Université de Lille 1)
  • Malls in urban fringes: conditions for alternative forms of mobility, Xavier Desjardins and Eleonor Lopez-Jollivet (Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne)

12:30-1:00 Open discussion with the audience and Internet users

1:00-2:30 Lunch

2:30-3:15  Public policies for an alternative to solo car use in peri-urban areas 

  • Public transportation solutions in the alterurban, Eric Chareyron (Keolis)
  • An original transportation policy in Houdan, Jean-Marie Tétart (mayor of Houdan), to be confirmed
  • The foundations of collective mobility: new “public” mobility experiences in urban peripheries, Marc Dumont (Université de Rennes 2)
  • Plans for speed moderation in Nantes area, Yan le Gal (Agence d'urbanisme de Nantes)

3:15-4:00 Open discussion with the audience and Internet users

4:00-4:30 L’AVL Ville: artistic project, political utopia?

  • Joep van Lieshout (Atelier Van Lieshout)

Conclusion: Opportunities for research and public action

4:30-5:30 The point of view of three great witness:

  • Jean-Marc Offner (Agence d'urbanisme Bordeaux métropole Aquitaine),
  • Laurent Thévoz (Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne)
  • et Marie-Flore Mattei (PUCA - Ministère de l’Ecologie, du Développement Durable et de l’Energie)


  • La Maison rouge - 10 boulevard de la bastille
    Paris, France (75012)


  • Thursday, January 24, 2013
  • Friday, January 25, 2013


  • périurbain, mobilités, modes de vie, représentations, développement durable, crises


  • Rachel Brunella
    courriel : rachel [dot] brunella [at] manifeste [dot] fr

Reference Urls

Information source

  • Anaïs Lefranc-Morin
    courriel : anais [dot] lefranc-morin [at] sncf [dot] fr


CC0-1.0 This announcement is licensed under the terms of Creative Commons CC0 1.0 Universal.

To cite this announcement

« Sustainable mobilities in peri-urban areas? », Conference, symposium, Calenda, Published on Thursday, November 15, 2012,

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