city ​​design lab project

City Design Lab

The City Design Lab is a research laboratory for urban design-led research that accompanies urban and territorial change. It supports the transformation of infrastructure and transportation into more sustainable solutions. The research work questions a central issue: how to reinvent a healthier, more resilient and more inclusive city, at the service of the living world?

city design lab

In 2012, the school chose to set up a master's program based in the City Design Lab to cultivate an alternative view of the city and to explore its real uses. Indeed, design is involved in the major issues affecting the regions and the cities of tomorrow. It implements methodologies to initiate, analyze and revitalize genuine urban and rural contemporary practices. In this sense, citizen participation is an essential part of the construction of tomorrow's world

The City Design Lab creates innovative solutions that serve 3 types of design:  

  • Urban design: methods of co-construction with users, in the field of mobility, services and urban spaces 
  • Circular design: regenerating spaces and reinventing urban lifestyles in the light of climate change, while respecting the environment
  • Systemic design: public service issues

"Today, there are big challenges in rebuilding the city on itself because it can no longer expand indefinitely. There are also issues of new proximity."

Florent Orsoni
Florent Orsoni
City Design Lab Director

The City Design Lab approach

The city is faced with major challenges of habitability: the issues of proximity, mobility, co-habitation, climate change and global health are changing the paradigms of its construction.

The urban sprawl model has shown its limits. What new tools are needed for a circular city? How can we regenerate spaces and reinvent cities on a human scale, thus cultivating a sense of community? Design is a strategic tool for this regeneration that can be used to reinvent the city with and for its users.

    Presentation of the City Design Lab with Florent Orsoni

    In this context of new territorial dynamics, the City Design Lab aims to:

    • Promote a partner-oriented and anthropocentric approach to the city and citizen co-creation;
    • Strengthen habitability on a foundation of accessibility and energy efficiency;
    • Reconcile the objectives of sustainable development with societal and economic changes;
    • Provide innovative proposals and systemic approaches to the "smart city".

    The City Design Lab’s activities

    At the heart of the transformations taking place in the creative district and the city of Nantes, the City Design Lab is a platform for research, training and innovation that explores new ways of living in the city or in the countryside, of learning, working or moving. Find out more about the Research - Training - Innovation.

    The City Design Lab’s research areas

    The City Design Lab focuses its research on six topics:

    • The organization of the 15-minute city and functional polymorphism to develop local services, in cooperation with the teams of Professor Carlos Moreno 
    • Social innovation: how does the city transform the user/citizen into the main actor of urban development on a human scale?
    • The development of shared mobility services with simplified access to carpooling, shared cars, bikes, mopeds and electric scooters
    • Urban experimentation as a new way of creating the city  
    • How to accompany the transformation of the built environment, and changes in urban and rural landscapes in the face of climatic, societal and economic challenges?
    • What kind of developments for a Smart city that respects your privacy? 

    Discover all the City Design Lab conferences and publications

    city design lab project

    Thesis on inclusive design practices in museums

    Marie-Laure Even, PhD student, is conducting a thesis on the effects of inclusive design practices in museums.

    This thesis, carried out at the Agence Tactile Studio, deals with the question "Does inclusive design contribute to the creation of meaning for all audiences in cultural institutions?" It is directed by Geneviève Vidal, senior lecturer, Sorbonne Paris Nord University, Erasme Doctoral School, LabSic, EA 1803, Paris and co-supervised by Florent Orsoni, director of the City Design Lab.

    The underlying assumption of the research is that the design of inclusive devices in the museum world benefits a very wide audience and changes the overall perception of users regarding disability or inclusiveness. 

    The methodology

    The methodology of the City Design Lab is based on pragmatic design research, interdisciplinary teams and a project-oriented approach with a systemic vision.

    It is based on these main principles:

    Global design

    The research carried out within the City Design Lab is based on a global design approach: products, services, spaces and communication.

    It favors an anthropocentric approach, with a focus on universal accessibility and anchoring the project in the field.

    At the intersection of various methods 

    The City Design Lab uses several complementary methods:

    • User experience design or UX Design analyses the user's experience in order to optimize it;
    • tactical urbanism refers to temporary, small-scale development solutions initiated by citizens;
    • design thinking deploys a user-centered process to design innovative products or systems;
    • systemic design uses systems thinking to address today's complex challenges;
    • circular design is inspired by nature, putting the notion of reuse at the center of projects, thereby making them sustainable and eco-responsible.
    Working session within the City Design Lab with Pr Carlos Moreno and the Center Michel Serres of the CNAMWorking session within the City Design Lab with Pr Carlos Moreno and the Center Michel Serres of the CNAM

    The City Design Lab brings together public and private actors, companies, associations, local authorities and academics, in order to create and test new spaces, services and "life-size" products. 

    The link with a research ecosystem - the Enterprise, Territories and Innovations Chair, European Systemic Design Lab - offers a perspective on design practices, with a "sounding board" effect on the tools.

    The students of the City Design master's program work on the following questions:

    • What are the new ways of inhabiting our local environment?
    • What are the major transformations taking place in our regions?
    • What are the new emerging forms of work and how do they affect the development of the region?
    • What are the new modes of travel in the city or in the countryside?

    Competitions and exhibitions

    During the first lockdown, students from the Care design and City design master's programs responded to the call for projects launched by the Global Grad Show, the international exhibition that showcases the work of designers from around the world. The Locabox project developed by students from the two Design Labs, enables the delivery of essential products while ensuring the safety of delivery personnel and clients in urban spaces. It was one of the 30 projects shortlisted by the Global Grad Show out of nearly 400 projects submitted. ⠀


    Become a partner of the City Design Lab

    Do you work for a company, association or local authority? Want to improve the quality of your content and their mediation?  

    The City Design Lab offers you different types of collaborative projects:

    • collaborative workshops; 
    • assessment missions;
    • research contracts;
    • hosting doctoral designers.

    The services provided are eligible for the Research Tax Credit.

    Tell us about your project and we will get back to you promptly:

    The partners

    Academic networks and international partnerships

    logo AYCHlogo htwlogo arts university plymouth


    logo life designers logo arc groupelogo bouygues immologo civiteologo edf
    logo keran logo lacroixlogo la posteLogo SNCFlogo stellantis

    Institutions and NGOs

    logo afnorlogo brest métropole et villelogo brulonlogo capeblogo cci métropolitaine Bretagne ouest logo chateaubriantlogo comité 21logo grand Angoulêmelogo id4carlogo malicorne sur sarthelogo ministere de la culturelogo Nantes métropole
    logo nantes st nazaire portlogo nantes université logo paris université logo ville pouzaugeslogo samoa
    logo santo tirso logo UK space agencylogo université corselogo ville de rouans
    logo ville vern anjou
    The City Design Lab Team
    The permanent team

    Florent Orsoni
    Director of the City Design Lab

    After co-founding the architecture and design agency Crysalide, Florent Orsoni worked as advisor to local authorities, the Design for All Foundation in Barcelona and for French ministers on matters of accessibility, uses and Design for All. He has also taught at l’Ecole des Ponts et Chaussées (continuing education), Paris V university (masters) and is a member of the steering committee for the journal Technicités for managers and engineers in the public sector.

    President of the AFNOR commission on accessibility and built environment quality standards (during his presidency material was written on signposting and fire evacuation). He has been directing the Banque Populaire Grand Ouest - LIPPI design-led research chair on Connected Environments. Today he heads up the programs and activities of the City Design Lab.

    Anaïs Jacquard
    Course Leader City Design MDes programs

    With a state diploma of architecture and a BTS (higher technical certificate) in spatial design, Anaïs Jacquard has built her professional experience on architecture, space design and training. She has also worked on digital tools for observing territories in the MorphoLab. With her multidisciplinary background, she has taught project practice at different levels, supervised workshops on epistemology of architecture, science of forms, cartography and has taught applied computer science.

    Kelly Buchet, Pedagogical Secretary of the City Design Lab

    The teachers
    • Julien Dupont : Systemic design
    • Nicolas Houël : dark design
    • Frédérique Letourneux : SHS
    • Emmanuel Alouche : Circular design
    • Clémentine Laurent-Polz : Circular design
    • Benjamin Walsh : enjeux de mobilité
    • Giulia Sola : designer
    Some Alumni of the City Design Lab
    Updated on 06.02.23