WDC Lille Metropole 2020

Mobilizing its community of designers, citizens, entrepreneurs, researchers and artists, WDC Lille Metropole 2020 demonstrated the power of design to build a more collaborative, creative and responsible future, in Lille and beyond. Under the theme Design is Capital, the city leveraged its rich history and cultural diversity to explore and implement a variety of human-centered design projects. 

While World Design Capital 2020 has officially come to an end, Lille’s design story will continue to build on this legacy. Lille’s talented and ever-growing design community is eager to ensure the foundations of the WDC programme continues to drive the region’s development and to inspire other cities around the world to use design to create more collaborative, responsible, creative and sustainable cities.


“It is from the direct experience of the development of a POC that so many people have approached the culture of design. This was a mission of acculturation in both senses: that of those who develop the project, and that of those who will become the end users.” – Caroline Naphegyi, WDC 2020 Programme Director

Understood as “the moment when we test the prototype of a solution using a design process to ensure the efficiency and effectiveness of a product, service or experience”, the POCs (Proof of Concept) were a defining part of the WDC 2020 programme. Having launched a national call for design-led initiatives, the city ultimately identified more than 600 “POCs” that addressed a variety of local and global challenges.

Framed as a way to understand needs, image answers, experiment with ideas and deploy solutions, the POCs focused on various themes, including urban planning, housing, education, culture and ecological and social development. WDC 2020 stakeholders worked to establish the ideas and projects that would define each POC, eventually selecting designers to lead each one. The POC design teams then worked in collaboration with regional municipalities to develop relevant activities and content for each Maison POC, in accordance with the theme.

WDC2020 Programme

POC experimentation through design

For over a year now, public and private actors, researchers, developers and associations in the Lille Metropole Area have been involved in the POC programme.

A POC marks the moment when we test the prototype of a solution found through a design process and use the lessons learned to improve the performance and efficiency of a given product or service.

From September 2020, five Maison POCs (POC Centres) showcased projects created in the Lille Metropole Area and beyond.

Mobility is not just about making people mobile : it has the power to change cities — and lives too.

Design is a discipline that can be applied to every type of transport and service to meet present and future environmental and humanitarian challenges. Energy transition, climate change, air quality, new ways of living and consuming, forms of solidarity… Through design, we can give citizens the freedom to get around while ensuring the particular needs of vulnerable people are met and reducing the impact of different modes of transport on the environment.

Designers, planners, manufacturers and researchers are redefining transport practices and have presented their vision by way of completed or experimental projects alongside exhibitions, round tables, workshops, expert talks and main focus events.

The​ “Housing” Maison POC will present the region’s strong innovation credentials in the area of housing.

The ​“Housing” Maison POC was the result of a cross-fertilisation between two architecture agencies, BLAU and Studio Rijsel, and aimed to create a complex landscape for the projects in the area.

We presented the diversity of the initiatives through an exhibition that is more atlas-like, collection-like than a minimalist selection.

Public space, housing, construction, teaching, furniture, design process : so many ways of approaching the question of living left to the visitor, so many experiences and visitors welcomed.

This great diversity we proposed to place it under the theme of domesticity in the continuity of Gaston Bachelard’s thought : ​“any truly inhabited space carries the essence of the notion of home”. Models, immersive photographs and projections have enabled us to apprehend what is both a value shared by all and a deeply personal experience.

The ​“Care” Maison POC advocated the idea that caring for others is the best way to get the most from the world. Care given to others, both to the younger generations as well as our elders, is an act that is bigger than just the healthcare system.

Caring extends to our natural environment and users of the city and is a way to update economic models and embody the values of our society.

The ​“Circular Economy” Maison POC is about sober consumption models of exhaustible resources where the waste of one is reintroduced into the production cycle of the other…

Recipient of three founding values — zero waste, frugality and reuse — this Maison POC wishes above all to be an example of how to make an event space sustainable, accessible and eco-responsible. Located in the former school of the Couvent des Clarisses in Roubaix, the Maison is taking part in the circular rehabilitation and transitional occupation project Saisons Zéro (Zero Seasons) run by the Zerm collective and the City Council of Roubaix.

The Maison POC was not intended as a showcase for solutions, but as a catalyst for positive practices that raised and promoted the right questions more than the right answers, the whys and wherefores more than the expected results.

Around sixty projects from POC holders in Lille and elsewhere — presented as experiments in systems, with a particular focus on citizen participation and co-design — were in dialogue with the practices of international designers. A living laboratory, evolving and opened to all, it was built over time thanks to the active participation of project leaders and the public.

The ​“Collaborative City” Maison POC explored, through ​“design shows”, a hundred local and international projects in order to discover emerging visions of sharing, mutual aid and cooperation…

How can design facilitate collaboration within the city to trigger supportive, sustainable and democratic lifestyles ?

Modern lifestyles are focused solely on the individual, solutions are increasingly personalised, algorithms are becoming more and more targeted, mentalities tend to be individualistic, and today, socialisation is done remotely…

How can we improve the public service experience for users ? What might tomorrow’s public policies look like ?

Organised around around thirty field experiments, called POC (Proof Of Concept), which have taken place in the metropolitan area, the ​Public action” Maison POC is one of the six POC houses that have contributed to make Lille Metropole come alive.

For several months and for everyone it was the observatory for the « Public Action » theme, which refered to the action of the administration to ensure its missions and services to the various users.

Before being a place, the Maison POC AP was a moment to observe Public Action in full mutation through design. This moment, punctuated by a programme, was a set of high points, events and meetings, whose vocation was to reveal the dynamics of transformation through design that animated the action of the metropolis and the municipalities that made it up and to make it a subject of dialogue. A transformation that was embodied in the territory by various projects and initiatives in which the use of design as an organised approach contributed to the development of solutions with high social economic environmental and human added value.

The POCs were at the heart of the design is capital project.

More than 600 project intentions had been identified, led by local authorities, companies, universities, cultural spaces and associations, accompanied by designers, with the aim of collectively finding concrete solutions to meet the challenges of our world.