Let’s get involved in upgrading our neighbourhoods: EUREQUA

Focus on February 2017 CityUrban planning

By Benoît Gauvreau, a researcher in environmental acoustics - AME Department, UMRAE Laboratory

Participons au réaménagement de nos quartiers : EUREQUA - Ifsttar - EUREQUA research project - http://eurequa.univ-tlse2.frNowadays every member of the public asks many questions about their living environment. Whether these are personal, or relate to the neighbourhood, such questions can play a role in their district’s development.

In this context, the EUREQUA1 project is concerned with urban living conditions, at the neighbourhood level and from the environmental standpoint. It follows a novel approach that relies on a multidisciplinary team consisting of geographers, sociologists, atmospheric physicists, acousticians and architects, who work with the elected representatives, associations and other players with responsibility for the urban environment.

A mingling of disciplines

 The concept of the “environmental quality” of the surroundings in which people live is neither straightforward nor consensual, whether for residents  and urban stakeholders or for researchers concerned with urban areas working in extremely varied disciplines such as air quality, the sound environment, climatic comfort, etc. 

With this as its starting point, the EUREQUA1 project tackles the large number of issues raised by upgrading the urban living environment at neighbourhood level. The project therefore mostly selects urbans areas that experience severe environmental disamenities and which are candidates for redevelopment.

The scientists’ highly multidisciplinary approach (involving both engineering disciplines and the human and social sciences) aims to bring together both ordinary and institutional players during the different stages of the project.

Setting up a participatory mechanism

With its aim of providing operational assistance to public policy, the project sets out to design and test a participatory mechanism in three study neighbourhoods located in Paris, Toulouse and Marseille.

The first stage identifies the different sources of environmental disamenities, taking account of how they interact with people’s customs and practices. Physical measurements are then compared with residents’ representations and perceptions.

This is done by setting up participatory workshops, for both residents and managers. These workshops will identify expectations and generate proposals which will be considered by the professionals involved in the project (Agence Lion Architectes Urbanistes and the Paris Region Planning and Development Agency - Institut d’aménagement et d’urbanisme d’île de France). The participation of the public will help with both analysis and evaluating the scenarios for the environmental upgrading of a neighbourhood.

Decision-making aid tools

Simulation numérique du bruit routier dans le quartier étudié à Toulouse (http://noise-planet.org/fr/noisemodelling.html) - Copyright LAE Ifsttar

As far as digital simulation tools permit, some of the scenarios are then evaluated in order to quantify the impact of the (re)development measures on the urban environment. 

To give an example, the team at IFSTTAR’s UMRAE has developed open source software known as NoiseModelling2 which produces environmental noise maps to verify the feasibility of a scenario before the redevelopment project is finalised. 




In more general terms, the approach involved in the EUREQUA1 project will be set out in a methodological guide  for assessing and improving the environmental quality of a district that is intended for decision-makers such as local elected representatives, associations and urban planners. 



1 Evaluation mUltidisciplinaire et Requalification Environnementale des QUArtiers, an ANR project running from 2012-2017  which is backed by a large number of partners. These are listed at  http://eurequa.univ-tlse2.fr/accueil-eurequa/partenaires/

2 An open source tool developed in the context of the Noise Planet project which aims to provide a comprehensive, generic framework for modelling and evaluating noise in the environment http://noise-planet.org/fr/project.html

Find out more...

  • Gauvreau B., Guillaume G., Can A., Gaudio N., Lebras J., Lemonsu A., Masson V., Carissimo B., Richard I. and Haouès-Jouve S., “Environmental quality at district scale: A transdisciplinary approach within the EUREQUA project”, First International Congress on Urban Physics, Quito (Eq), 26-28 Septembre 201.
  • Free download of this work on MADIS documentary platform