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A social and ecological residence

Award category
Prioritising the places and people that need it the most
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NEW EUROPEAN BAUHAUS AWARDS: existing completed examples
Project title
A social and ecological residence
Full project title
From an old school to a social and ecological residence !

Sancoins old school was disused for years and no projects happens. Foncière Chênelet and the electives decided to create an intergenerational and ecological social housing residence to answer major issues of the territories especially housing precarity, the elderlies and inadapted houses. With Palabres architectes, Foncière Chênelet renovate the building with ecological and circular way. Works was done by local businesses and unemployed people.

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What was the geographical scope of your project?
Sancoins (18)
Centre Val de Loire - département du Cher
Does your project address mainly urban or rural issues?
Mainly rural
Does your project refer to a physical transformation of the built environment or other types of transformations?
It refers to a physical transformation of the built environment ('hard investment')
Has your project benefited from EU programmes or funds?
Has your project won an EU prize?
Your project is fully completed?
When was your project implemented?
How did you hear about the New European Bauhaus Prizes ?
Social media
On whose behalf are you submitting the application?
As a representative of an organisation
Please provide a summary of your project

Concerned about issues of fuel poverty, the aging of the population and an unsuitable supply of social housing… the elected representatives of Sancoins were looking for innovative solutions. The meeting by Le Relais/Assimmo18 de Bourges made it possible to concretize a project to rehabilitate the former municipal school, disused since 2010, into 13 intergenerational social housing units adapted for ageing/handicap and a community hall. Mainly dedicated to the elderly, our partner Béguinage et Compagnie supports future tenants to prepare for their new life and unite new residents. Today, Assimmo18 manage the building and animate the life of the building and inhabitants.

This rehabilitation is possible thanks to a Social Impact Contract signed with Anah, which aims to develop the rehabilitation of this type of abandoned property into very high quality housing for the most vulnerable. 

Foncière Chênelet is a social landlord specialized in ecological, comfortable and with very low charges social housing, fully adapted to disabilities and senior citizens.

Please indicate the main themes of your project with 5 key words
local employment
Please give information about the key objectives of your project in terms of sustainability (including circularity) and how these have been met.
Please highlight how the project can be exemplary in this context

Our aim was to renovate this old building by using ecological techniques for a low carbon footprint and for quality of the raw materials. Our objective was also to achieve a low energy consumption building.

We used mainly biosourced materials : woods, wood fiber to isolate, fermacell, natural linoleum... reused some materials.

Also, we used performant equipment : rain water collector for WC, pellet boiler, triple gazling wood windows, etc.

Works were done by local businesses.

Please give information about the key objectives of your project in terms of aesthetics and quality of experience beyond functionality and how these have been met.
Please highlight how the project can be exemplary in this context

Architecte des Batiments de France approved our works that preserves the identity of this old typique Loire Valley school.

The choices of quality and noble raw materials preserves the unique touch of the building and touch of colour give him a new fresher !

Quality materials and equipments gives also a high quality standard to live in this building.

At the heart of the building a common place is shared by the inhabitants with local habitants of the cities. This room hosts activities and make this building open on the city.


Please give information about the key objectives of your project in terms of inclusion (equal opportunities, public participation, citizen engagement, co-design, universal design, accessibility, affordability, etc.) and how these have been met.
Please highlight how the project can be exemplary in this context

First, we created 13 social housing fully adapted to elderlies and disabilities, dedicated to people with the lowest revenues (conventionnement très social). Most of them are elderlies, but some houses are reserved for youngest inhabitants.

This people were accompanied by Beguinage et Cie before their moving in to help them prepare their new life and help them know eachothers. They also participate for some of design aspects.

Today Assimmo 18 is accompaying them. An animator is present on the site to make life easier, empower people and create activities.

During the works, one open day happen to make inhabitants of the cities and formers schoolguys to visit the works and celebrate the new life of the building.

Also, for the works we employ unemployed people. They were trained thanks to the works to get back to job.

Please explain how these three dimensions have been combined in your project.
Please highlight how this approach can be exemplary

These 3 dimensions were linked, we couldn't have make the projects otherwise.

The poorest people need quality ecological building : they need to pay the weakest energy bills and have beauty housing that make them proud. Housing were they can welcome and host their families, a residence were they can share and have some activities open on the city.

Please give information on the results/impacts achieved by your project in relation to the category you apply for

1 old school was saved from becoming a parking and has a new impactful life !

14 people age from 25 to 90 are rehoused in quality ecological, low charges, confortable, healty and fully adapted to elderlies and disabilities.

Many activities are proposed in the common room.

A dozens of local businesses have been employed to refurbished this old school.

More than 6 500 hours were dedicated for unemployed people training to go back job.



Please explain how citizens and civil society were involved in the in the design and/or implementation of the project.
Please also explain the benefits that derived from their involvement.

Projects come from the electives that were out of ideas to give a new life to this building... an old school has an impactful souvenir on the inhabitants that are happy to see an impactful project rather than a parking !

As the style of the building was conservated, we have a public open day to share the works and future of the building.

Also public photographies exhibitions were organised all along the works.

The works involved many local businesses thrived to participate to this refurbishment.

That's a project for and with the territories actors, including financers and electives.

Please explain what kind of global challenges the project addressed by providing local solutions

Charges linked to energies, already very high, keep increasing. This constitutes a major challenge for people with low incomes who can’t face it. Ecological housing allows important savings on usual consumption charges, but the sector is still underdeveloped in France and is only for wealthier people. So we build healthy and comfortable  ecological houses for people with the lowest incomes.

The French elderly population will double in fifteen years. Most of the elderly people wish to stay in their accommodation, which often do not allow it, because it is not adapted to senior’s reduced mobility. Facing the aging of the population, we won’t be able to have retiring houses for everyone. Our houses being adapted to people with reduced mobility and disability, elderly people in loss of mobility will be able to stay in their accommodation for a long time.

France is in need of 800 000 social housing to meet the need of the most deprived people. And the situation is even more critical in rural and suburban areas, often neglected by conventional housing providers. So, in this area, new initiatives can be determinant to meet the needs of these populations and territories.

Please highlight the innovative character of the project as compared to mainstream practices in the field of the project.

To answer a major societal problem on housing for people with low incomes, Foncière Chênelet “moves the lines” and proposes a very high quality ecological housing to these people.

First of all, we build houses of quality backwardness of the dominant thought, that is “poor houses for poor people”, with energical problems and unpaid rents ensuing.

Our model :

- Answers the inhabitants needs:

: Have very low charges,

: Manage to pay their bills, leave assistantship,

: Enjoy healthy housing, adapted to aging and disability.


- Socially efficient:

: Answers people with low incomes’ needs,

: Avoid unpaid rents, anticipates predictable rise of energy costs,

: Answers problematic of aging, dependence, small pensions...

: A supportive social accommodation.


- Answers the needs of rural and peri-urban territories:

: Building and renovating where other social housing landlords don’t go,

: Providing a solution to elected officials who do not have any more answers to their territories’ needs.


- Territories revitalisation:

: Economic dynamism with call for tenders for housing which allow local enterprises’ answer which represent today more than 70% of the building cost,

: Social inclusion clauses to train people excluded from the job market to tomorrow’s jobs.

Please explain to the potential of transferring the projects’ results or learnings to other interested parties and contexts.
Please provide clear documentation, communication of methodology and principles in this context.

First, we have built for other social landlords.

Second, we have contracted a Social Impact Bond scheme with the ANAH (french agency for the housing renovation/refurbishment). This wanted to promote high quality and ecological refurbishment/renovation of social housing. We are experimenting on 60 houses with the aim to change ANAH rules on subsidies for better housing (less carbon footprint and less energy consumption for a better life for people).

Third, we have just found, with a belgium partner (Archihuman) a company to replicate Chênelet social housing in Belgium. Especially we wanted to build in Brussel small wasteland high quality housing for homeless people (-> ).

With this scheme, that’s how we could continue to promote high quality social housing.

Foncière Chênelet model could be replicated and shared with other partners from all over Europe to develop quality ecological social housing, and we could also lobby, with other actors, for european best standards and new regulations on housing and subsidies/financement of this sector.

Is an evaluation report or any relevant documentation available?
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