From Dakar to Nairobi, via Antananarivo, Abidjan, Kigali and several cities in Tunisia, the Urban Fabric Initiatives program supports urban stakeholders in the design and implementation of inclusive, participatory urban projects, advocating for a new approach to (re)creating cities.


What is an Urban Fabric Initiative?

Urban Fabric Initiatives (UFI) are collaborative public space design initiatives inspired by participatory, tactical or transitional urban planning practices. They bring together public authorities, citizens, project owners and urban professionals to develop public spaces on a neighborhood scale. Supported by the Agence française de développement (AFD), they work on different types of spaces and facilities, such as infrastructures for sport, mobility, transport, leisure, green spaces and public spaces.

Urban Fabric Initiatives deploy a collaborative methodology at every stage of the urban project: participatory diagnosis, co-design, co-construction, community or shared management solutions, calls for projects to carry out mobilization actions, etc.

Their inclusive approach contributes to changing the practices of those involved in producing the city and its spaces, and aims to stimulate citizen participation, so that everyone can play a part in urban transformation.

©Studio-Baïnem_Catalyseur d'innovation grands projets urbains

A catalyst for innovation in major urban projects

Implemented over a period of 2 to 3 years, each Urban Fabric Initiative is linked to a large scale urban project financed by the Agence française de développement (AFD), which lasts between 8 and 10 years, from the launch of the feasibility studies to the delivery of the final infrastructures.

Urban Fabric Initiatives support the implementation of these major projects, and are designed to compensate for their often lengthy preparatory phases. By proposing small-scale projects, interventions and public installations that are sometimes temporary, they test new uses and types of facilities, and aim to rapidly improve the living environment of local residents.

The Urban Fabric Initiative is generally launched upstream of the associated urban project. It can be set up right from the start of the study stage, to pre-identify needs or provide input for the design of developments and facilities planned as part of the major urban project, or at the start of the project implementation, to create a dynamic among stakeholders and affected users in the neighborhoods. More rarely, the Urban Fabric Initiative can be used to complement a project that has already been delivered, in order to improve its urban integration or the uptake and management of sites.

The UFI operator

A multi-disciplinary team responsible for the initiative coordinates each Urban Fabric Initiative: the UFI operator. The operator is often a civil society organization or a group of partners. They have expertise in architecture, urban planning, civil engineering, social action and community mobilisation.

The UFI operator works hand in hand with the contracting authority of the large-scale project connected to the Urban Fabric Initiative. The operator’s role is to organize the deployment of the system on several sites, either public spaces or derelict land, identified following a participatory diagnosis involving all the stakeholders and users affected by the urban transformations.

It is also responsible for facilitating coordination between the contracting authority, civil society and users. As the conductor of the project, the UFI operator promotes collaboration and dialogue between those who design, manage, build and live the city on a daily basis.

Sustainable and inclusive projects to build cities together

By placing users and residents at the heart of the process, the Urban Fabric Initiatives aim to respond more effectively to their needs, to facilitate the appropriation of spaces, facilities and shared equipment, and to ensure their sustainability.

Urban Fabric Initiatives aim to contribute to changing the practices of all stakeholders (project owners, local authorities, AFD, citizens), and to challenge and shake up conventional urban production methods. They embody a vision that promotes civic engagement and the creation of dynamic urban spaces, where everyone can benefit and contribute to shaping the environment in which they live.