WHAT: The past decade has seen the emergence of “hybrid” places designed to facilitate a diversity of purposes, uses, and users. They can integrate production and office spaces like co-working spaces, or fablabs, public services, retail, cultural, and social activities. The city of Genk in Belgium offers access to housing, public spaces, and restaurants, and has turned a former coal mine into a cultural destination as an incubator for artists and creative entrepreneurs. In the rural French region of Creuse, the “café de l’espace” (“space café”) serves drinks and food like any café, but also welcomes schools for activities, ensures postal services during the day (after public postal office closed), and in the evening hosts artists and inhabitants for concerts.
Similarly, Western Africa has seen the development of fablabs, democratizing access to new technologies
and entrepreneurship. Conceived and financed through collaborative processes, hybrid places are meant to bring value to their locations.
SO WHAT: Hybrid places can transform territories such as shrinking or growing villages, empty city centres, or de-industrialising areas, by offering new activities and opportunities to citizens in one location. They also promote new forms of socialisation and more economic opportunities. Municipalities could include hybrid places in their talent attraction strategies, offering new residents and remote workers with creative meeting places that match and complement their values, such as solidarity and community building, innovation, dynamism, as so forth.