The complex challenges of our societies

In recent centuries, the development of urban areas has followed a very catastrophic pattern: making cities centralities with growing population density, sometimes leading them to just be urban corridors and exploiting the resources of other territories. This state of affairs has created interdependent territories around the world, which are difficult to meet local needs from their own natural resources. The consequences: the increase in ecological disasters and disturbances in many regions of the planet.

By zooming in on the ‘Ile-de-France’ territory, city planning has contributed to weakening natural spaces up to the “outer suburbs”. The impact increases the risk of loss of biodiversity in our own territory. Sometimes creating, a current example during the last days of June, urban heat spots with a difference of 6°C between the outer suburbs and the regional limits. The challenge: each city must be associated with the surrounding territories and promote all possible exchanges between the centralities and the peripheries.

What is our capacity for resilience by relying on local resources, water for example - a highly topical issue?
What is our ability to invent the mobility of tomorrow: reduce the distances to be traveled to the workplace; reuse abandoned navigable voices?
What is our ability to develop the circular economy in the manufacturing sector, but also in the building sector?
What is our capacity to develop new, more sustainable food systems, based on the richness of agricultural territories in region and the development of urban agriculture?

Local innovators and ecosystems

It all starts with the construction of ecosystems and the development of sustainable initiatives that contribute to new models of local, reasoned and sustainable production.

Makers x Covid - Citizen and distributed emergency movement - @Homemakers Paris - photo credits: Quentin Chevrier

Let's go back a few months earlier at the start of the pandemic (an unprecedented situation for the majority of us ). In a few weeks, ‘citizen-makers’, fablabs, schools, NGO’s and businesses have been able to implement a resilient model of emergency production on a territorial scale : makers x covid.

We talked you about this two years ago: FOLDED by Volumes, the super-fast face shield against Covid-19

Far from the current production patterns, these few months of mobilization have demonstrated the interest of digital tools applied in a reasoned way, the importance of local know-how and the redeployment of local productive workspaces but also of learning through making. A number of mobilized people have been trained in these new approaches and learned about the challenges of our current model.

So territory empowerment means empowerment of citizens through training by making and raising awareness of new production methods; by relying on craftsmanship knowledge and technological advances applied to a real transition towards a regenerative, productive and inclusive economy.

Excerpt from the Fab City strategic study on the territory of Greater Paris - Fab City Grand Paris - Civicwise

In 2018, the Fab City Grand Paris study presented 6 areas of recommendations to support local empowerment. Among these recommendations, the 4th major axis concerned training in order to promote the emergence of profiles of new designers: designer-producers, digital craftsmen, etc…, via new courses for job seekers, professionals in retraining, changemakers and entrepreneurs.

Designers capable of designing with the complexity of our territory, understanding local impacts, creating local connections; and combining the potential of new digital tools, practical experimentation and sensitivity to societal issues.


Learning at the intersection of design, technology, ecosystems and communities

Fab City Grand Paris, following his recommendations, is developing with its members a local learning platform and trainings for the jobs of tomorrow. Through its certified training organization, it’s setting up trainings nourished by the experience of actors in the field: NGO’s, collectives and companies involved in the territorialisation of the economy, the development of short supply chains and the circular and industrial economy.

Découverte des écosystèmes innovants et fabricants, c’est au programme - VOLUMES on LinkedIn
Découverte des écosystèmes innovants et fabricants, c’est au programme de Résiliences Productives ! Les apprenant.e.s sont parti.e.s à la découverte de...

In this context, ‘Résiliences Productives’ program that we have been carrying out at Volumes in partnership with the actors of the local ecosystem (Oasis 21, Vergers Urbains, WoMa, Foodlab, Ars Longa) aims to allow young public to discover the dynamics with local positive impacts, to realize the challenges of the development of circular models on food, manufacturing production and industry and to learn of practical skills in the making of these fields in its local context. For job seekers, retraining professionals, and entrepreneurs: two programs on the sectors of urban agriculture (Agriculture XYZ) and circular design (Circular Making) have been deployed last year. These trainings support these audiences to respond to the societal challenges of our territory in their future professions, and to the development of short, adapted and evolving supply chains in their city and in region.

The interconnection of current issues means that solutions will only be found through experimentation and learning in the field, but also learning from other cities and communities around the world that have integrated new systems and/or initiated their ecological transition.

“Learn to do (almost) anything” in a distributed way - Launch of the Fab Academy in Paris
“Learn to do (almost) anything” in a distributed way - Launch of the Fab Academy in Paris

Back a few years, Volumes launched the Fab Academy Paris with WoMa : a course provided by the MIT through the Fab Foundation. The objective of the program: teach how to imagine, design and prototype projects using digital manufacturing tools and machines. And all this through a new learning methodology: parisian students learned within the lab community, with peers and mentors, while being connected to the global network of fablabs!

A first step to a distributed learning experience.

So, through the global network of Fab City and Fab Region, the Fab City Foundation initiates the Master in Design for Distributed Innovation (MDDI) : a learning program focused on this intersection of design, technology, ecosystems and communities, in response to the challenges of our society! With a research and immersion ecosystem for professionals, MDDI wish to provide concrete responses to the climate crisis, its local impacts and complex challenges by connecting a global community of changemakers with local innovators.

In Paris, the MDDI program aims to enable future changemakers to learn from parisian innovation ecosystem and apply new knowledge to the challenges of neighborhoods, cities and urban communities in ‘Ile-de-France’ by relying on a global network of knowledge and experimentation: a distributed learning platform!


Next step: learning through a global and distributed network

MDDI : three one-trimester modules and a final Design Studio

The MDDI program is a continuation of the Fab City Grand Paris and its members dynamic: training new graduates and experienced professionals for 1 year in the skills necessary to meet the environmental and societal challenges of our territory and the development of economic and socially sustainable projects! By being globally connected, whether you come from backgrounds in business, entrepreneurship, public and/or academic sector, everyone will learn from local ecosystems and resilient communities in other continents within the vision of the transformation of our territory and the bioclimatic issues.

As a distributed program, you will experience a mix of webinars with in-person mentorships, local stakeholder studies and visits, and on-site experimentation. The program is organized into three one-term modules following three topics: Ecosystems, Technologies and Communities, ending with a final project sprint applied to the local context.

Want to learn more about the program, and how it responds to bioclimatic issues, all informations ➡️ fab.city/mddi, or contact the local team by mail

The MDDI program is still receiving applications for the pioneer cohort of international students - Deadline : mid-August 2022 | Apply online

You might be already working in the public or private sector, academic institutions or, may come from an entrepreneurial background having started your own business related to sustainable initiatives.


📌 This program is organized by the Institute of Advanced Architecture of Catalonia and the Fab City Foundation. It is co-directed by the Fab Lab Barcelona at the IAAC, the local nodes of the distributed campus, and is supported by the global network of Fab Labs.

The MDDI program is locally relayed by Fab City Grand Paris, and organized with its members (WoMa, Volumes, Ars Longa, Vergers Urbains, and many others).


Volumes is specifically supporting the MDDI local deployment in the context of its mission to support the emergence of local ecosystem for positive impact around the world, for which education and training is a crucial ingredient.