R-Urban, Colombes

Piloting sustainable ecological systems

Agrocite, Colombes. Image Credit: R-Urban

R-Urban is a European organisation that promotes practices and networks to develop urban resilience. It produces projects that aim to benefit communities and the economy by focussing on closed ecological cycles since 2012 in Paris and London.

This article is split over two parts, continue on this page to read about R-Urban Colombes, Paris or click here for the corresponding article on R-Urban Wick, London.

R-Urban Colombes is a North-West suburb of Paris which has developed three complimentary projects which test ideas in urban agriculture, sustainable housing and recycling techniques. Although on different sites, the projects are linked with a closed ecological cycle, which shares flows of materials, energy, people and processes. This development is said to raise the ‘Urban-resilience capacity’ of the city, testing how to be a  self-sustaining network.

The organisation is supported by EU Life + Programme of environmental governance and the city of Colombes with design partners AAA (Atelier D’architecture Autogérée) and Public Works Group (for London projects )


In 2012, AgroCité (Pictured above) started as a community garden plot as part of R-Urban Colombes, including education facilities, a seed library and local café on what was previously a vacant plot of land.  The garden works in experimental ways to create energy from composting and understanding the natural cycles of organic materials. Plots like this give an opportunity for knowledge and skill exchange between the local citizens, organisers and educational groups whilst bringing an ecological advantage to the area.

Due to recent changes in the governing structures of Colombes, the AgroCité is now subject to threat as a proposal to use the land for a temporary car park has been made. There is an online petition to stop this development which is scheduled to take place in September 2015, which you can read more about here.


Agile City RUrban

Recyclab, Colombes. Image Credit: R-Urban

The second part of Colombes sustainable network is the Recyclab located on the Boulevard d’Achères. It is a recycling centre which tests the variable qualities of materials and is especially interested in ecological building techniques. The building consists of sections which deal with gathering materials, recycle and reuse workshops, eco-building testing, event spaces and ‘LABFab’ which offers open advice on technology.


Agile CIty R-Urban EcoHab

Image: Archdaily

EcoHab is the final project of R-Urban, Colombes which is a cooperative of seven experimental housing units focussing on co-production and self-build processes. This residential plot contains social housing, student and residency spaces and community facilities. Building methods are tested together with ecological systems to build sustainable living models. Each of the ‘tests’ are recorded in an archive to allow this knowledge to be exchanged and developed for future building experiments.


AgileCity Rurban

Each of the three developments plays a vital part in the ecological cycle of the project and exchanges a number of resources with each other. This locally closed cycle (pictured above) produces commodities to be shared within the cycle. An example of this process is the production of food in an organic cycle (light green) which is made in Agrocite of which 70% given to EcoHab then the waste is composted and given back to the community garden to grow more. The network also exchanges money (Orange) made from the Recyclab and People/information flows (Pink.)



To see more projects which operate on the principles of flows analysis and closed cycles visit insideflows.org or read our previous post about the subject here

For more information about R-Urban Colombes – Rhyzom or facebook