New technologies, new uses, new services, new energy, social, and environmental constraints?

Cities are changing, and the upcoming change will involve almost all fields of engineering sciences: construction and public works, energy and thermal efficiency, intelligent electrical networks, big data, the Internet of Things, artificial intelligence, life sciences and urban agriculture, mobility…

In this context, Junia has a powerful vision: whether urban areas capable of making a successful transition regarding energy & society will depend on their ability to create something useful, to include users, and to multiply the bridges between the major functions of our urban fabric: flow and supply management, healthcare organisation, energy production and distribution, waste management, leisure, food, logistics, etc. In the huge machines we call cities, everything needs to be rethought, tested, and implemented.

This is the goal of the four testing grounds deployed on the new campus: to use the Vauban-Esquermes district to conduct ‘life-size’ experiments and develop the urban solutions of tomorrow, all in collaboration with the people who bring them to life.


The Vauban district is home to four testing grounds dedicated to a range of issues at the heart of our societies. They will be as much places of research and teaching as places for scientific activities, sharing, and debate. These labs will be open to all, from students to scientists, from entrepreneurs to local residents, from amateurs to experts. By 2024, the surface area allocated to our testing grounds will have increased from 3,400 square feet to 26,800. Almost an eight-fold increase...

What are they?

Testing grounds represent both fully equipped and operational environments (a building, a plot of land, an apartment, a greenhouse, an entire neighbourhood, etc.), and a community of users: researchers, students, professionals, local residents, designers, business creators, the general public, etc. Their presence in a single location facilitates exchanges, and therefore the emergence of new, better thought-out, and more useful solutions.

What goes on there?

We conduct research, tests, and full-scale projects on a given theme: urban agriculture, future commerce, smart housing, etc. In this 1:1 scale space, each user is confronted with real-life conditions concerning constraints and intended uses. In these ‘living labs’, you can develop a concept, fine-tune a project, prototype a product or service, test user response, incubate your start-up… All under real-life conditions, thus taking into account the question of uses or new economic concepts.

Who uses them ?

Junia’s testing grounds are open to all: students are trained there, researchers carry out their work there, companies test their solutions with real users, and the general public can keep abreast of the latest innovations, designed and tested before their very eyes.

  • Testing ground #1 - Future nutrition & agriculture

    Urban agriculture is one of the most significant stakes in the sustainable development of cities: how can fresh and healthy food be produced for the greatest number of people, at a low cost, and ecologically? Which technologies are used?

    The future nutrition & agriculture testing ground designed by Junia will be based in a monument well-known to all the people of Lille: Palais Rameau. With the city of Lille entrusting the school with a 25-year lease, Palais Rameau will undergo a major transformation into a vertical urban farm, bringing about a new milestone in its rich history What are we going to do there? At the crossroads of all disciplines, students, researchers, and partners, we will explore the techniques and uses specific toall aspects of urban agriculture and food of the future. Vertical farming, aquaponics and hydroponics, tasting, sensory labs, networked energy efficiency, data management, geothermal energy, robotisation, digitisation, economic modelling, collaborative economies, collaborative spaces… The objective is to enable the emergence of new and compelling solutions in a sustainable city in terms of urban agriculture and nutrition
    of the future.

    The iconic Palais Rameau will remain open to all. It will of course welcome students as a dedicated training space, but it will also be open to professionals and individuals interested in agriculture and new forms of nutrition. As a research tool, it will enable laboratories to develop their own work or to work on company projects (R&D, prototyping, full-scale experimentation, incubation, etc.). It will also be open to everyone for scientific activities, demonstrations, conferences, debates, product sales, etc.

  • Testing ground #2 - Tomorrow's factories

    What will factories look like in the future? How will industrial sites manage such major challenges as automation, AI, robotisation, or predictive maintenance? What kind of management can we imagine? How can we reduce the environmental footprint of a production unit, limit its energy bill, and control its costs? How do we structure production chains and logistical challenges? How do we protect processes and production methods from cyber attacks?

    To support industrial innovation, Junia is planning the construction of a full-scale plant capable of enabling constant dialogue between engineering students, researchers, and companies. The aim of this project, which is both educational and industrial, is to design and test, in real conditions, an industrial scheme, from the study phases to production itself, by integrating all the thinking that characterises the future of industry. By training students to do jobs that may not even exist yet, the testing ground will also be an opportunity to accustom them to integrating ideas for technological solutions into a more global vision: consumption management, clean energy, waste reduction, circular economy, taking into account usage, etc. Eventually, this kind of ‘factory-school’ will be set up in HEI’s technology hall, in the heart of the Ségard block, and will complement the systems already in place: fab lab, workshops, etc.

  • Testing ground #3 - At the heart of societal & energy transition

    Are smart cities on the horizon? More and more so, yes. The movement is already well underway, and it will soon create global ecosystems, capable of using information and communication technologies (ICT) to ‘improve’ the quality of their urban services, reduce their costs, decrease their environmental impact, roll out smart transport networks, manage energy production and distribution, etc. In the future, the open, simplified, efficient, useful, and inclusive city will no longer be a place reserved for urban planners or computer scientists, landscape designers, environmental or financial specialists, sociologists and anthropologists… The intertwining of a wide range of disciplines will allow a city to naturally reinvent itself.

    As part of the ADICITÉ® brand (Workshops for a transitioning city), Junia has, for several years now, relied on the blending of existing expertise in its three schools to meet these challenges. With the campus redevelopment, new opportunities are opening up in the buildings that Junia is renovating or constructing: real, first-hand demonstrators of what can be done in areas such as self-produced renewable energy, data sharing, intelligent buildings, or shared energy consumption between buildings on different sites.

    In concrete terms, the diversity of Junia’s property heritage becomes an asset: each building becomes a place for experimentation, testing, and implementation, with its own innovation challenges – a great playground for researchers and students, often in close collaboration with partners at Lille Catholic University, which is currently committed to its own Live Tree project.

  • Testing ground #4 - Smart usage spaces

    Smart homes, apartments that take care of the vulnerable, phygital stores, lecture halls or classrooms full of sensors and technology to enhance educational facilities… Fuelled by the explosion of the Internet of Things, the tendency to turn every building into a smart one is unlikely to slow down, and the only limit may be the imagination of the designer. But what for?

    Junia has already set up a testing ground at Euratechnologies to explore these questions. The smart home – a complete and fully functional 2,000 sq. ft. apartment – is a life-size testing ground, designed to develop high-tech equipment and test automation solutions for the homes of tomorrow: all in real-life conditions. At the heart of the Urbawood building, the site has all the expected amenities of an apartment, as well as a technical ceiling, a reconfigurable floor, a rapid prototyping workshop, and a dedicated infrastructure – everything we might need to test an infinite number of applications: health, homecare, surveillance and security, reduced energy consumption, privacy protection, etc.

    In the future, new testing grounds will allow us to test even more possibilities. Although digitisation and emerging economic practices have taken no mercy on physical commerce, it’s far from disappearing: in fact, it’s in the process of reinventing itself. On the Bordeaux campus, Junia is therefore planning to envision the shops of tomorrow, with a particular focus on small city-centre stores. Together with local partners, this smart store testing ground will be set up in a genuine business unit to enable retailers and entrepreneurs to invent the local commerce of tomorrow, in real-life situations, and in conjunction with Junia.

    With another smart space come even more applications: on the renovated campus, Junia plans to set up ‘Class-Labs’, a testing ground designed to develop the educational spaces of tomorrow. How can new technologies improve the way we learn or teach? What innovations are relevant? The answer lies in this testing ground, which will make it possible to design and test them quickly in real-life situations.


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