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Third places: Fabriques de Territoires and digital Fabriques: initiatives and development

For several years now, the world of training has been interested in third places and in the news of learning in these spaces.

[Translation (French - English) : EPALE France]

A growing interest

Interest in the development of third places and in their impacts, both in terms of territorial development and diversification of working and training, is nothing new. In 2018, the study on third places carried out by Fondation Travailler Autrement listed nearly 1,800 third places in France, 46% of which were outside metropolitan areas. Indeed, the emergence of these third places is part of a fundamental movement affecting the whole territory, and is the origin of new economic and social dynamics: new ways of working (working from home, self-employed workers); development of local activities that encourage local supply. These places are key players in the digital and ecological transition throughout France. They have become service platforms that contribute to the vitality of all territories: rural, peri-urban, urban, urban policy districts, etc.

The education sector has been interested in third places for several years. We devoted the EPALE thematic meeting of October 2019 to the theme of "Third Places for Learning", which showed the vitality of the initiatives and their impact both on the mobilization of the public and actors and on the design and experimentation of new ways of learning in an approach designed "for all".


A call for expressions of interest

In the light of this development, in July 2019 the French government launched a call for expressions of interest to encourage the development of third places throughout France. With a budget of €45 million, it was aimed at identifying 300 existing or planned third places known as Fabriques de Territoires by 2022, 150 of which will be located in priority urban districts and 150 in rural areas.

The government will thus support these new Fabriques de Territoires structures with €75,000 to €150,000 over three years, while they consolidate their economic balance.  The government funding takes into account the range of services offered and the location. The list of the first 80 Fabriques de Territoires selected under this call for expressions of interest has been published, all are deployed in priority neighbourhoods. Among them:

48 Fabriques de Territoires will benefit from government support. Fabriques de Territoires will thus have the role of bringing people together, focusing on the creation of activities, cooperation between stakeholders and local development, benefiting the entire ecosystem in the area. Fabriques de Territoires are therefore “heads” of their third place network, acting as a resource for project leaders in the area; a place of training and learning by "doing together"; a place of digital inclusion for populations without to the internet the new opportunities it offers. In particular, these places will benefit from a seed grant from the government of up to €50,000 per year over three years.

32 digital Fabriques de Territoires will propose many activities based on digital technology to the inhabitants and professionals of the area.  In addition to the seed grant of up to €50,000 per year over three years, each third place will be supported by a financial bonus of €100,000.

The call for expressions of interest is open until 2021 and the next two rounds will close on 30 March and 20 June 2020. Project leaders can submit their applications to the "Nouveaux lieux, Nouveaux liens" programme by the French National Agency for Territorial Cohesion (ANCT) www.societenumerique.gouv.fr/tierslieux (link is external). They will be supported by France Tiers-Lieux, the national association supporting project leaders in third places.

Development is key, with support for stakeholders

The aim is to develop these Fabriques de Territoires in areas where they do not exist. The stakes, as we can see, are both quantitative and qualitative. This means supporting local initiatives and stakeholders on the ground rather than prescribing models from above. At a time of major demographic, digital, ecological and productive transitions, the government has decided to support these public and private initiatives by adopting a new method of intervention: without prescribing, without seeking to standardise, but by accompanying, accelerating and "equipping" all those involved.


As Denis Cristol pointed out in the interview he gave us for EPALE, we must pay attention to these spaces that facilitate the act of learning. And therefore, the development of skills is conditioned by a reflection on the design of multimodal, open and flexible places where cooperation is the key to mobilizing the public and local stakeholders. And where the common good is always present. This clearly raises questions about training engineering. Social equity relies on being able to collectively combine attention to the content to be taught, the pedagogical scenarios to be constructed and the facilitating learning spaces that will necessarily be cooperative and hybridised. And rooted in the territories. An important issue and a stimulating challenge!


Fabriques de Territoires and digital Fabriques de Territoires


Doing things together for a better life together. The study of third places conducted by Foundation Travailler Autrement


EPALE thematic meeting: “Third places for learning” on 30 October 2019


Konk Ar Lab: making and learning together: a Fab Lab at the service of all


Third places for learning: an interview with Denis Cristol





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