BIMBY + BUNTI vs urban sprawl

What does that mean?

Ahead of the workshop “land as scarce resource: increasing the use of space and buildings” taking place in Brussels on the 22nd of June, discover some of the speakers. Today, we go in the Vosges (East of France), with Laurence Bertrand, from SCOT Vosges Centrales (joint association of local authorities) and Denis Caraire from Villantes Vivantes.

You haven’t done it yet, there is still some time to register to the workshop. Make sure to register here.

Could you briefly introduce yourself and the organisation you work for?

Laurence Bertrand has a doctorate in urban planning and is director of the “Syndicat du SCOT des Vosges Centrales” for 15 years. The Syndicat du SCOT des Vosges Centrales is an inter-municipal organization in Eastern part of France whose mission is to develop and implement the Territorial Coherence Plan (Schéma de Cohérence Territorial – ScoT). SCoT is a central French urban planning instrument for a group of municipalities, which combines the management of several sectoral policies and multi-scalar coordination with the objective of designing more sustainable cities.

Denis Caraire is a qualified urban planner and cofounder of the startup Villes Vivantes. Villes Vivantes offers local authorities tailor-made architectural and urban design services dedicated to homeowners through a short supply chain for housing production and renovation.

Can you explain the BIMBY & BUNTI concepts, as opposed to the NIMBY concept? How does this concept translate into your work?  

Initially, BIMBY stood for “Build in My Back Yard” and evolved to “Beauty in My Back Yard”. It consists in organizing a soft and diffuse densification of single-family dwellings. The SCoT Vosges Centrales is the third region in France bringing this concept into practice by supporting homeowners, through the services offered by Villes Vivantes, triggering housing creation in already built environment.

In addition of soft and diffuse densification projects (land activation), the concept of BUNTI aims at transforming, refurbishing, and upgrading existing housing triggered and financed by a tailor-made architectural modeling. The support provided by Villes Vivantes to homeowners help them to transform under-occupied or vacant housing.

The implementation of these concepts takes place in a rural territory, polarized by a mid-sized city, Epinal, in a steady demographical context and a relaxed housing market with a growing vacancy rate (11%).

What are the results in the Vosges Centrales?

As of today, 205 projects have emerged in 5 years, including the reactivation of +100 vacant housing: 149 projects in BUNTI and 56 in BIMBY.

The approach facilitated the radical shift in the land use model promoted by the SCoT, moving away from urban sprawl towards urban renewal, by relying on the involvement of local elected representatives and on the voluntary participation of inhabitants. The initial investment done by the local authorities, to provide a free service to its inhabitants, is compensated by the savings generated in infrastructure compared to the costs incurred by a traditional urban sprawl model.