Brown Bag’ Seminar  “Impact of Social Crisis on Social Housing in the Satellite Towns in France: The Case of Grenoble”

Brown Bag’ Seminar “Impact of Social Crisis on Social Housing in the Satellite Towns in France: The Case of Grenoble”

Date & Time

11 November 2011, 00:00


Environmental Studies Lab, NIE 3-02-27


Humanities & Social Studies Education (HSSE) Academic Group



Events Details


In France, despite continuous governmental efforts to solve housing shortage of low-income households, social scientists and journalists have blamed high-rise, high-density living as a facilitator for the development of ghettos, youth gangsterism, drug abuse or social unrest, notably amongst the immigrant populations. French public housing estates were not initially meant for ghettos but rather as an “inclusive” and integrative space for diverse social groups. But two forces seem to have led to an unwanted auto-exclusion: a) financial crisis and global redistribution of industrial labour leaving immigrant workers and “poor whites” out of jobs; b) lower middle class inhabitants escaping the world of poverty by leaving the housing estates.

Though critical situations are found in larger metropolitan areas like Paris, Lyon, Marseille, this study has chosen a second ranking city: Grenoble as representative of the problem. Well-known in the 1960s and 1970s for its innovative capacity in high-tech industry, and as a planned model-city, Grenoble has still a large part of its population living in poverty. This study examines its once innovative suburban districts and their housing estates (La Villeneuve, and L’Arlequin estate) and analyzes how they have changed their social image and evolved towards physical and social decay.

The speakers:

Charles Goldblum is currently Emeritus professor, after serving as full professor and director (1987-1992), at the University of Paris 8 – Institut Français d’Urbanisme (French Institute of Urban Planning - IFU) and senior researcher at the Laboratoire Théorie des Mutations Urbaines (CNRS – National Centre for Scientific Research). He was also head of IFU’s Master and PhD programmes.

As a specialist in urban development and urban policy issues in Asian developing and emerging countries (from analysis on metropolitan development based on fieldwork in Southeast Asia to theoretical approaches to urban governance), he has published several books and large numbers of papers on these issues (last publications as co-editor, in French: Vientiane, architectures d’une capitale de l’Asie du Sud-Est – Traces, formes, structures, projets ; in English: Spatial Planning for a Sustainable Singapore). He is currently active in several research and academic cooperation programmes in Laos, Indonesia, Thailand and Singapore. He is presently member of a French think-tank for international urban cooperation (French Alliance for Cities and Territorial Development, an initiative of the French Ministries of Foreign Affairs and Environment).