Residential concept ©Enzo Amantea

Beyond renewed architecture and increased integration of digital technology, smart buildings involve radically rethinking the concept of use and reasoning in terms of systems to improve performance. What changes do smart buildings mean for their users? How will they be financed?Following of our investigation into these new “smart” buildings.

Buildings that serve their inhabitants

The Gate Heliopolis ©Vincent Callebaut Architectures

The Gate Heliopolis ©Vincent Callebaut Architectures

Ambitious building projects already exist, such as “The Gate Residence” in Cairo, developed by Vincent Callebaut, where, from the design stage onwards, the architecture integrated cutting-edge renewable energies to provide eco-friendly lifestyles. However, innovation in the fields of construction and energy must not forget the social dimension of buildings, whose ultimate purpose is to serve people.

Philippe Van de Maele, Director of Innovation and Sustainable Development at Bouygues Construction, reminds us that “acceptability and appropriation by residents is essential.” Smart buildings must be adapted to the expectations of future users if they are to be properly used. To this end, the Group has conducted sociology workshops in Grenoble to assess needs and areas that could be shared among residents (gardens, car parks, laundry areas, guest bedrooms, etc.). Tolerance levels which vary according to location, hence the need to adapt to local demands.


Eikenott eco-neighbourhood, Switzerland

Eco-quartier Eikenott, Suisse


In this search for greater energy conservation, the concept of sharing is fundamental and implies rethinking interactions between buildings within the neighbourhood for them to work more collaboratively. Our LinkCity® approach to creating sustainable and connected eco-neighbourhoods is the concrete translation of this concept: smart buildings are not considered individually, but rather in and with their ecosystem.



An approach shared by all stakeholders

Designing tomorrow’s buildings today inevitably means questioning the economic logic that will enable them to be funded. It is difficult to move from idea to realisation, when the integration of renewable energies and new technologies increases construction costs by 25-30%. On this front, all the players are unanimous: it will only be possible to finance projects if they take into account the entire life cycle of buildings. The overall cost approach is developing: social landlords are becoming more and more aware of their tenants’ costs and of the reduction in carbon footprint. Vincent Callebaut notably proposes a business model focused on the long term, where the investor would remain linked to the building during its use.

Building Residential Concept ©Enzo Amantea

Bâtiment Concept résidentiel ©Enzo Amantea

This vision means integrating all partners as early as possible and co-constructing projects with users and territories. Communities are not left behind in this approach. With the launch of its “Reinventing Paris” call for projects, the municipality has identified 23 sites and has invited professionals to present original ideas for their refurbishment. This is an ambitious initiative – over 850 applications received – and is accompanied by working groups to make Paris a “smart and sustainable city”.

So are you ready to try the smart experience?

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