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Les Charmilles industrial zone (ZIC) welcomes new tenants active in the circular economy and the field of culture

The recent freeing up of a surface area of 2,000 m² in les Charmilles industrial zone (ZIC) has allowed the owner, the City of Geneva, to welcome, in 2022, new activities combining sustainable development and creativity, which also include a social element. Two large-scale projects which will help make the ZIC a more integral part of local community life will soon be launched.


Located at the heart of the district of les Charmilles, only a stone’s throw from the HEAD - Geneva campus and the Quartet activity centre, the ZIC is the last remaining industrial and crafts zone (ZIA) within the municipal territory. Some seventy professionals work here in such diverse fields as carpentry, architecture, graphic design, locksmithing, sculpture, baking, brewing and mechanics. Fully aware of the potential of this area, the City has examined the possibilities for its reconversion for a decade, with the aim of opening the ZIC to activities focusing on ecological transition and creativity while incorporating a social aspect.

With this in mind, the Administrative Council – through its societal innovation delegation consisting of the magistrates Sami Kanaan, Christina Kitsos and Alfonso Gomez – organised a series of consultations in 2016 with some seventy people including users of the ZIC, representatives of the local community and the field of innovation and creativity and the institutions present in the area. Between 2018 and 2019, the departure of several municipal services and the disappearance of the MàD freed up more than 2,000 m² in the ZIC, paving the way for its renewal.

Two large-scale projects – a collaborative manufacturing hub and a cultural centre – will therefore soon move into the ZIC. As stressed by Alfonso Gomez, Administrative Councillor responsible for sustainable development, “These innovative projects reflect the City’s desire to foster ecological transition, encourage synergies and the pooling of skills and promote an accessible, diverse cultural offering. In particular, this involves increasing public awareness of the multiple benefits of the circular economy and opening the ZIC to everyone with a view to encouraging social cohesion within the district.”

MACO: a collaborative manufacturing hub devoted to re-use and experimentation

As the first collaborative manufacturing hub of this type in Geneva, the MACO will bring together a broad network of operators in the circular economy and the FAIRE movement within the ZIC. The fruit of cooperation between the City of Geneva, the Ressources Urbaines cooperative and the ZIC2 umbrella organisation, this 1,300 m² site is currently under construction and will open its doors to the public by the end of 2020, the health situation permitting.

Ressources Urbaines will coordinate and manage the building transformation operation. The ZIC2 umbrella organisation, responsible for the development and coordination of the collaborative hub, brings together five associations: le Fab Lab Onl’fait, Matériuum, le Grand Atelier, La Manivelle and Sipy. The areas made available by the City represent a massive opportunity to create synergies essential to the development of their activities. A rich and varied programme will be proposed, in particular including workshops open to all encouraging people to discover, experiment, create prototypes, swap and learn how to build and repair. The ZIC2 umbrella organisation is supported by the G’innove fund over a period of 3 years. A coordination post has been funded. This year, the MACO has also benefited from an acknowledgement in the cantonal grant for sustainable development.

“This project represents both a challenge and a huge opportunity for operators involved in the circular economy. A training and awareness tool, it provides the region with an original means of enjoying a tangible experience of transition while altering our relationship with consumer goods, their life cycle and their manufacture,” explains Julien Rey, coordinator of the MACO.

The financial plan for the project provides for free provision of the premises granted to the Ressources Urbaines cooperative for a period of five years by the Agenda 21 - Sustainable City Service. In exchange, the latter will cover the costs of the operational arrangements of the project and the alignment of the premises with the standards in force, contracting a loan from the Fondation pour la promotion de lieux pour la culture émergent (FPLCE). The rent from the future tenants of the MACO will serve to repay this loan over the 5-year provision period.

Further information concerning the opening of the site will be announced in the near future.

For more information

LES 6 TOITS, winner of the ZIC call for projects

Issued in November 2019, the call for projects for the temporary provision of 800 m² of space in the ZIC has now been awarded. The winner is the project entitled LES 6 TOITS. Sami Kanaan, Administrative Councillor responsible for Culture, is delighted by “this project which provides an original means of bringing together local cultural institutions, both highly specific and popular, such as the Conservatoire populaire, l’Ensemble Contrechamps, Eklekto and l’OCG in a multidisciplinary hub.” With its vibrant programme involving more than 140 events per year, people of all ages will be encouraged to come and discover, experiment, discuss and listen. Mediation activities will be organised on a regular basis in partnership with the associations and institutions based in les Charmilles. Collaborations with the craftsmen working in the ZIC and the students of the HEAD - Geneva will also be developed within the scope of this inclusive project.

For the committee of LES 6 TOITS, “This urban reconversion project offers a unique opportunity to pool our know-how in the fields of education, creation, research, production and innovation. We want to create a multidisciplinary and multi-generational meeting place open to the entire district and which contributes to fostering its cohesion.”

Accompanied by the Frei & Stefani architects office, LES 6 TOITS intends to transform the spaces tendered through minimum but effective development, thanks to the installation of soundproofed and partially glazed wooden modules which will house the rehearsal rooms and performance halls common to the four structures. It will also be possible for music groups, performing troupes, ensembles and orchestras to rent these areas for occasional use.

In accordance with the conditions stipulated in the call for projects, the City will make the premises available free of charge for a period of 5 years, in exchange for significant investments to be made in the premises. This new centre could be ready to open its doors by the end of 2021.

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Appel à projets - Zone industrielle des Charmilles (ZIC)


Christelle Pally, Agenda 21 - Ville durable

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Article modifié le 21.11.2022 à 16:20