In a town called Autrêches, near Compiègne, L’Hermitage is a large «playground» for citizen experimentation, open to its territory. It is animated around the themes of agro-ecology, energy and digital transition. It is a location with a collective approach in search of innovation on impact projects.
Hermitage, , noun. sing.1. a place active in the themes of living together, agro-ecology, energy transition and citizen hacking. For the past four years, L’Hermitage on a 30-hectaresite has been devoted to rural and civic innovation. Twenty-one buildings, 21 hectares of woodland and 3 hectares of arable land for resourcing, experimenting, undertaking and concretely connecting to the challenges of transforming our societies.
Among the strong points developed in this unique site, putting new technologies at the service of the general interest, are the need to live and feed oneself in an environmentally friendly way, the need to live with dignity in low-energy buildings and the need to share ideas and know-how. “It all started with a group of friends who, at the end of 2016, wanted to give a future to this emblematic place which was the scene of fighting during the First World War, then a medical centre and the headquarters of an international NGO. Today, a whole ecosystem can be found there. Entrepreneurs, a market gardener, a brewer, an associative café, a seminar centre and a digital school,” explains Loïc Pentecôte, a founding member of L’Hermitage, who is in charge of the eco-renovation of the building and the energy and climate referral. In 2020, he was also appointed as an external member of the TSH department council,and is involved in the UTC’s sustainable ‘Collective Engineering’ (CIS).
Four UTC graduates work full time at the Hermitage
Loïc Pentecôte, who graduated from UTC in 2013 with an engineering degree in the major Process Engineering (GP), is part of the team developing the site with Mathieu Karinthi, who majored in Urban Engineering (GU-2015), founding partner of L’Hermitage, Raphaël Langaret, majoring in biological engineering (GB-2016), co-founder of Végéto, an aquaponics company based in L’Hermitage, Jacques de Bucy, who graduated in Process Engineering (GP-2011), CEO of SCICSENS, a company based in L’Hermitage and cosponsor of the SCEA Les Jardins de l’Hermitage (agroecological market gardening micro-farm). Several professors and researchers from the UTC have found in L’Hermitage a place of inspiration and potential partnerships for their work, such as Clément Mabi, Olivier Gapenne, Pascal Jollivet, Frédéric Huet, David Flacher…
The singular dynamics of this network is based on the great variety of its actors, from citizens equipped with 3D printers to specialized territorial actors (fab labs, hackerspaces, third innovation places), including VSEs and SMEs. A very concrete example is the unprecedented and massive mobilisation of the seactors at the beginning of the health crisis to produce masks and visors. In this context, L’Hermitage was at the centre of the creation of the FabriCommuns collective and platform (fabricommuns.org), which made it possible to manufacture more than one million items.