Neighbourhoods reborn

Thanks to REVIT, six European cities shared their experiences with brownfield site revitalisation which preserved area history.

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The new face of the île de Nantes. The new face of the île de Nantes.


The goal of REVIT, a network of six cities co-financed by the European Union, was to work together to improve the rehabilitation of brownfield sites within the framework of sustainable development. The six partner cities are Stuttgart (Germany), the network base, Nantes (France), Tilburg and Hengelo (The Netherlands), Medway and Torfaen (United Kingdom). Together, they wanted to provide a better image of industrial brownfield site rehabilitation by coordinating available tools and by sharing examples of good practices with other European cities and regions. Danuta Hübner, the European Commissioner for Regional Policy stated that “The European Union provides added value to local municipalities through this type of thematic network”.

The project

The brownfield revitalisation projects include a former freight train station in Stuttgart, industrial port sites in Nantes and Medway, coal mines in Torfaen, an old textile mill in Tilburg and the Hart van Zuid neighbourhood in Hengelo. In Nantes, for example, REVIT has contributed to bringing renewed life to three sites (Alstom, the Fonderies de l’Atlantique and the former shipyards) on the île de Nantes, across from the city’s historical centre, by starting with the history of the area and by giving new value to its industrial heritage. The expected long-term result is 6,500 housing units, 250,000 m² of businesses, open public spaces, social, tourist and cultural installations, etc. According to the project managers, Nantes Métropole and the Société d’Aménagement de la Métropole Ouest Atlantique (Samoa), “The transformation of the île de Nantes seeks to be an open, dynamic, creative and shared project able to welcome a wide variety of activities.

Three birds with one stone

The urban mutation of these six cities is the result of exchanges between public partners, private businesses and local residents. Restoring brownfield sites therefore requires killing three birds with one stone: developing cities more coherently, reviving the local economy and revitalising employment. The added value of cooperation between the six partners can be seen in both its effectiveness and its sustainability. Effectiveness: instruments are more fully integrated and coordinated, for example, new financing techniques. Sustainability: the goal is multifunctional development including the preservation of industrial heritage. In addition, the intent is to eliminate attacks on the environment as well as protect other natural resources on or around the revitalised brownfields.


The REFINA programme (research to reduce land use and for sustainable land management), financed by the German ministry of Education and Research and the CABERNET network for the revitalisation of brownfield sites, initially financed by the EU, have also been combined with this initiative.


Over the next programme period, from 2007-2013, the European Commission will continue to strengthen the mutual learning process between regions and cities. It has launched a new initiative called “Regions, actors in economic change”, with the goal of encouraging the diffusion of best practices in economic modernisation and innovation throughout the European Union. The lessons of REVIT will be very relevant.

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