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The COOP: a cooperative culture for the city

The COOP occupies a central part of the project and will offer Deux Rives inhabitants a centre for culture, business, citizen participation and neighbourhood services, while boosting the city’s attractiveness.

The area will house some 60,000 m² of business and socio-cultural facilities, as well as a range of neighbourhood services and some 350 homes. The project is due for completion in 2019, at the same time as the opening of the StarCoop-Petit Rhin tram station.

The COOP comprises mainly land and buildings of the old Alsace co-operative Society, an iconic name in Alsace retailing.

 The Coop set up its head office on the site in 1911, alongside its production and distribution facilities, which operated until the company closed down and the site was bought by SPL Deux-Rives in 2015.

With the publication of the first strategic orientations for the site, the COOP is fully set to become a mixed-function centre for economic activities (including port, manufacturing, creative, digital, social and solidarity businesses), culture and citizen participation. The site is home to the Ososphère Festival of digital arts and electronic music and also to artist workshops and has, of course, a long history of encouraging the cooperative culture.

The future of the Coop also echoes of the nature of the site and its history. Coop Alsace was both an entrepreneurial and a social project, one which promoted an alternative way of consuming, which highlighted local products and expertise. The new Coop will be perpetuating this tradition in both its projects and its approach.

 The Coop, under the guiding hand of Alexandre Chemetoff, is to become the city’s source of cooperative culture.

The Coop offers both a tangible and an intangible heritage, with an extraordinary wealth of spaces and buildings constructed to meet the ever-changing production and storage needs of the old Society. It contains workshops, offices, housing, warehouses, production areas, carpentry shops, a garage, a wine-cellar and a bakery, among others, dotted along the lanes and roads of what is in itself an urban district.

The site was hurriedly abandoned in the mid-2010s and it vividly reflects the history of its occupants. The buildings are, however, rapidly falling into disrepair and work needs to be done urgently on them. They have to be converted for new uses, with project leaders selected and the renovation work begun as quickly as possible.

Alexandre Chemetoff is a French architecture, urban planner and landscape artist and is responsible for the project design. He draws his inspiration from the history of the site and its architectural and spatial features, to set out his vision for its future. The projects and programmes are tailored to these features, in a spirit of “generous frugality”. The inherent qualities of the land and buildings lend themselves perfectly to their future purposes. A FabLab, for example, would fit perfectly into the old carpentry shop, while the old warehouse is ideal for keeping works of art. The former workshops can easily be converted into artists’ studios, while the old employee housing will become offices and residential buildings and the garage a bar and music venue.

The project is innovation-focused and, inspired by the Alsace co-operative movement, fosters a collaborative, citizen-led approach, with shared work tools and services. The housing, for example follows a participatory process, with a continuous exchange of cultures, knowledge, ideas and expertise, an approach which also provides the backbone of the business and social and solidarity enterprise projects, which have both a highly European aspect and are adapted to their position within the Rhine port. A genuine cross-border cooperative network is gradually beginning to get off the ground.

The first facilities for driving a dynamic neighbourhood and a cross-border business and sociocultural dynamic will be opening in summer 2019..

The Coop will be a centre point for the city of Strasbourg’s cultural facilities, which will be spread among a number of renovated buildings:

La Cave à vin (the wine cellar)—around 8200 m² of a total surface area of 12,500 m² of this building are to be renovated and converted into City of Strasbourg facilities.

The Cave à Vin features vast, multipurpose indoor areas, which can be used for projects and cultural and socio-economic events, while also hosting offices and workshops. The cellar is one of the iconic buildings of the Coop and will be open to a wide variety of users and project leaders, the aim being to create socio-cultural and business networks.

La Virgule (the comma) – about 4600 m of this building are to be renovated and converted into areas dedicated to creation and innovation. They will include artist and craftsman studios, cultural outreach, a Makerspace/Fab Lab and a public area with the facilities for hosting events.

L’Union sociale – The City of Strasbourg’s museum conservation and study centre (8200 m²).

The Union Sociale was previously a warehouse and will now be used to house the city’s equipment and facilities for conserving and studying the collections held by Strasbourg’s museums and also be used for outreaching its activities and collections.

With the Port and Starlette, the Coop is also the cornerstone for the economic development of the Deux-Rives project.

The Coop Offers a number of services for businesses, employees and entrepreneurs, including meeting and training rooms, event facilities, working spaces, support for training and entrepreneurship, a MakerSpace for design and prototyping, and also services for employees.

One of the main aims of the Coop is to become a platform for bringing together economic and cultural stakeholders, including manufacturers, movers in the social and solidarity economy, as well as creative protagonists from France, Germany and all over Europe.

The site features many different types of spaces for business activities, such as the Kaléidoscoop (which brings together entrepreneurs and social and solidarity enterprises), with a total of 40,000 m² (including 15,000 m² for renovation) given over to business, including offices and training facilities, workshops, studios for craftsmen, logistics and shops.

As an important component of the Eurometropolis, the Coop is also an area where the city’s cooperative culture is put to use on a daily basis.

Neighbourhood-based life is driven by local housing, shops and services, along with community activities, cafés, and a socially-mixed population with the facilities for successful urban living. The project’s foundations are built on its 350 homes, their inhabitants and their involvement in local life, which will build the ties linking it with the surrounding districts, from the Rhine Port to Kehl.

Coop in figures:

  • 90,000 m² for development, half of which is for renovated buildings and the other half for new buildings,
  • About 350 homes in a range of different forms and styles (community housing, “unadorned” housing)
  • 20,500 m² given over to Coop public facilities, for culture, business and citizen participation.
  • 40,000 m² (including 15,000 m² for renovated buildings) for business activities, including offices and training facilities, workshops, studios for craftsmen, logistics and shops.

Coop provisional timeline

Spring 2017

  • Extension of tram line D and opening of the StarCoop-Petit Rhin station 2019*, with the arrival of the first inhabitants and employees and the opening of the Coop socio-cultural facilities.
  • First calls for expression of interest, open to developers, for the renovation of the administrative building (involving 13,000 m² as part of a mixed workshops/offices/housing project).
  • Publication of the names of the first activators and tenants (future tenants of the Menuiserie (old carpenter shops) /Makerspace and the Garage/Artist and craftsman workshops.

 

Late 2017 – Early 2018

  • Start of building-work on the Coop (Virgule, Cave à Vin and Union Sociale ; work on public areas).

Late 2019- Early 2020

  • Opening of 20,500 m² of Coop public facilities – the Virgule (studios, Makerspace, external event area), the Cave à vin (the hypostyle room and the bottling-room event areas, workshops, etc.) and the Union Sociale (museum conservation and study centre).