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Château de Millemont, France Becomes an Open-Sourced Eco...

Château de Millemont, France Becomes an Open-Sourced Eco-Village

From August 15th to September 20, 2015, a hundred makers are going to build a village about energy transition at the Château de Millemont in Millemont, France. Benjamin Tincq, Co-founder of OuiShare, a group dedicated to the collaborative economy, is one of the innovators behind this project, baptized POC21. Here is our interview with him.

Fab Lab gathering, Paris, France

From August 15th to September 20, 2015, a hundred makers are going to build a village about energy transition at the Château de Millemont in Millemont, France. Benjamin Tincq, Co-founder of OuiShare, a group dedicated to the collaborative economy, is one of the innovators behind this project, baptized POC21. Here is our interview with him.

Q: What exactly is the POC21 project?

A: In the last few years, we have witnessed several highly inspiring, sustainable projects related to ecology, carried out through open-source innovation, fab labs, and makers. When it comes to housing, for example, there is the Wikihouse, a wooden house that is easy to construct and for which all of the plans are freely accessible. In the transportation sector, there is Wikispeed, an electric car collaboratively designed by eco-enthusiasts from around the world. We see similar innovations when it comes to energy (OpenEnergyMonitor), food production (Peer-to-peer Food Lab), and agriculture (Open Source Ecology). All of these solutions are interesting, but they are addressed to a niche and a public that is already initiated into the world of sustainable development. Now, the question is what to do so that the greater public can be inspired by these projects, create them, and buy them. Our goal is to make distributed innovation a part of the debate on energy transition, a debate that is heating up as the COP21 conference approaches.

Scale Model of Wikihouse

Q: How are you going to demonstrate that these initiatives are worthwhile?

A: From August 15th to September 20, 2015 a hundred participants are going make a fully-operational “energy transition village” at the Château de Millemont in the department of Yvelines, 45 minutes from Paris. A call for project submissions in the areas of energy, housing, mobility, food production, and the circular economy is open until April 24th. Twelve of the submitted projects will be put in place in the village.

The space will be provided with all of the equipment to furnish modern hackerspaces and fab labs. Designers, engineers, sales representatives, and media representatives will be on site to help participants bring their projects to fruition and to the level of perfection needed in order to be distributed to the greater public. The goal is to ultimately create a showcase; an open-source, ecology showroom that will be open to the public.

Grand Palais, Paris, France

Q: When can we see the results?

A: The village will be open to the public the weekend of September 19, 2015. Then it will travel to different events, whether they be activist-led events like Alternatiba, or more institutional, like Solutions COP21 at the Grand Palais in Paris, or at the Civil Society Village during COP21.

We are also going to produce a sort of “Ikea catalog” of open-source solutions for energy transition in both digital and paper versions. Eventually, the goal is to set off international momentum with a network of “green fab labs,” around the world, or marketplaces like Opendesk, that allow one to freely download instructions for creating furniture oneself.  

Q: A recent poll shows that catastrophic discourse about the climate does not bring results, but that the French are ready to act if we show them that solutions exist. And isn’t that the goal of POC21?

A: Exactly. The public no longer really believes in diplomatic negotiations. The OMG understand that and have turned more and more towards a discourse that highlights solutions. The name POC21 is a play-on-words with “Proof-of Concept,” which means showing that solutions can pass from the conceptual stage and function, thus proving their feasibility. Still, success is necessary to make the solutions inspiring. Often, the inventions created in fab labs are badly showcased. We need projects that are as “sexy as Apple, but as open as Linux.”

Chateau de Millemont, Millemont, France

Q: How can open-source be an appropriate response to the global problem of climate change?

A: Open Source is a method of development that allows for the creation of economical solutions by using collective effort and research. Unfortunately, it is still rather unknown. Those who work on energy transition don’t communicate a lot with makers. Our goal is to get things moving. Manufacturers are starting to find all of this interesting. We can see this with Tesla’s decision to put some of its patents into the public domain. From the political side of things, we have received the support of Axelle Lemaire. Communities and government officials could understand the interest of open-source initiatives in the public market. Management, commerce, and engineering schools could also integrate open-source principles into their courses. But above all, it is up to the general public to get involved.

What open-source initiatives have taken place in your community? Have you created something from an open-source? Share your stories and thoughts in the comments area below. 

Original article, originally published in French, here.

Credits: Images and data linked to sources.

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Katelyn Hewett recently graduated from St. Olaf College in Minnesota with a Bachelor of Arts in English and French. During her time at St. Olaf, she enjoyed playing the French Horn in the St. Olaf Band, working as a teaching assistant for first-year...

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