Futuribles Journal n° 389

Territoires, réseaux

Low-Density Spaces in France to the Year 2040

Continuing the series begun in May 2012 aimed at reflecting the “Territories 2040” foresight exercise launched in France in 2009 by DATAR, Laurence Barthe and Johan Milian present here the lessons learned by the working group on low-density spaces, of which they were members. After going over the statistical definition of these spaces, how that definition has changed over time and the characteristic typology of the spaces, they give an account of low-density French territories based on four major areas of observation: the different populations involved, the changes to their economic fabric, their powers of attraction and their modes of social regulation.

Stressing that the place of these spaces in the spatial order has changed greatly in recent years, with what were once “territories in difficulty” becoming more attractive territories offering new opportunities, Barthe and Milian outline the five scenarios envisaged for the years to 2040: “Community Archipelagos” (demographic shrinkage and deregulation); “Productive Platforms” (strengthening of productive activities in agriculture, energy and the environment); “Low Density Reabsorbed” (in other words, overtaken by urban sprawl); “Enterprising Systems” (banking on innovation); and “The Urban Areas’ Forward Zone” (these territories becoming part of a more general paradigm of “sustainable towns/cities”).

Barthe and Milian go on to analyse two major challenges for low-density spaces in relation to the more general work carried out as part of Territories 2040: the enhanced capacity of these territories (in other words, their ability to control their destinies and find a place in the overall territorial system) and the ecological development of their resources.

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