La Cantine

A space for collaborative work and community events


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151 rue Montmartre, Paris
FR France


About the project Edit

La Cantine was founded in 2008 by Silicon Sentier. Our project gets us involved in dynamic research, cross-reflection and development of innovative projects. Our mission, which comes in a variety of forms, aims to facilitate meetings and cooperation between stakeholders of ecosystem digital technologies. In doing so, our goal is to reflect on the challenges of this ecosystem and to facilitate the development of innovation, growth and employment.

This process is aided by providing suitable space designed for collaborative work, by organizing events around themes and varied issues, as well as the knowledge of projects, desires, expectations and ambitions of its actors and the proposed solutions adapted to their needs.


In what ways is this project unique and creative? Edit

La Cantine is defined as a "third place", according to town planner and sociologist Ray Oldenburg. The term is used to designate a specific form of spatial configuration that aspires to be a social environment different from a private space (home and work) and public space (street, park). In this context, the local coffee shop, squat artist, cultural centre or a public space serve as informal meeting sites that could also be used by a third-place, according to the way it is used by individuals who animate, use and visit the site. More than just a spatial characteristic, the third-place is largely the product of human relationships, creative interactions and ways of getting together socially and professionally. Beyond the places dedicated to commercial activities or specific practices, these crossing points attribute a new meaning to space and culture, through communities that form and come together, networks that develop and grow around the uses made from it. The concept of Ba expresses an additional uniqueness to these places, which is the fact that new relationships have emerged serving as the basis for developing knowledge. These free spaces are also areas of instability, which in our case, break the systemic nature of non innovative processes, leaving sources of creativity and innovation to chance and serendipity. Thus, spatial dimension and especially the characteristics of hybridity, freedom and implict creativity in terms of space, form the basis of reflection initiated by this project.

What is the social value of this project? Edit

Based on sharing space, the connection to a place, grows gradually according to how often we visit it and individual interest, but it also grows in terms of diversity and heterogeneity in the fields of knowledge and practice, uses of space and need for actors. Self-employed workers who regularly visit the workspace: end up greeting, discussing their issues and business, turning to each other with their problems and needs, and developing a unique form of cooperation between individuals who share the same experiences, problems or simple interests. So we can see the dynamic daily collaboration between co-workers, who will choose their own colleagues without necessarily entering into a contractual commitment as within an hierarchical organization. Therefore, it is common to see, for example, multimedia design students meeting a touch table producer who will lend his materials for their project, or software developers giving advice to a project manager of a company, or project developers finding investors or partners.

However, this everyday framework is animated more periodically, by a certain number of participatory processes, like open events such as Barcamp. Based on the principle of "non-conference" this is an event that has no predefined program. The participants, experts or not, propose topics they wish to address during the gathering, according to a matrix of time and space where a number of workshops take place simultaneously on one day. Conducive to interaction, discussion and creativity, this format of the event is a collaborative work technique where, as in the case of technology cooperation, the unknowns of the same sphere of activity have to work together, discuss, design, model thoughts, create projects or lines of code, if for example the theme is specific to a computer language. This dynamic can be described as ascending (discussion and project topics are developed by the participants and not predefined by the organizers of the event) and it is also supported by the freedom of expression. Each participant takes a turn introducing him/herself. This type of participatory device makes it possible to acquire knowledge mainly through social interaction and networking, which today is called cooperative and collective intelligence. Let's note that it is also through the transversal and egalitarian character of the dynamic hybrid that these daily or occasional co-working spaces (similar to barcamps) contribute to improving the innovation processes. In this context, we can see the parallelism that exists with the web of relationships leading towards an organization of networks, an alternative to hierarchical forms of organization.

What is the potential of this project to expand and develop? Edit

An "open source" model has declined regionally and internationally.
Since its inception, La Cantine has passed through the gates of Paris only to be turned down in other territories. It contributed its efforts to create a dozen other Cantine projects - developed by local communities or networks of businesses. By transferring its expertise and values, La Cantine does not want to create replicas of itself, but wants new structures to adapt their identity to the area that welcomes them.

Since January 2011, 4 Cantine projects have been launched in Nantes, Rennes, Toulouse and Toulon. The first Cantine international project is located in Israel and the second one is under development in Tunisia.

Moreover, the Cantine model draws particular interest in emerging communities with crisis management issues (natural, technological and humanitarian) through the use of Web2.0 tools by civil society to participate in prevention, early relief and reconstruction.

What was the triggering factor of this project? Edit

What is the business model of this project? Edit

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