The first nudge building in Paris

By Eric Singler

How the Collaboration of Design and Behavioural Economics, Created a Transformation Eco-Friendly Living Environment for the Future 

Academic theory around behaviour economics has been explored, by thought leaders such as Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein, authors of “Nudge”. But there are few examples of behavioural science being applied to create actionable impact in the design of a residential building.

The BVA Nudge Unit undertook a project to do just that. We set out to create the world’s first nudge building for the city of Paris. Here is the story.

The starting point: friendship and passion.

The Nudge building project began because of my friendship with Emmanuel Launiau.

I met Emmanuel 40 years ago when as kids we played football together. Emmanuel has since become president of OGIC – one of the biggest and most successful real estate companies in France, and I founded the BVA Nudge Unit.

Like me, Emmanuel was passionate about the practical applications of behavioural economics (BE), to influence design and construction of transformative buildings. We shared a vision that we could use these principles to transform the design of buildings, to encourage behaviours which could be good for residents, the community and the planet.

Our dream project: “Reinventing Paris”.

Our opportunity to realise this vision came through an amazing initiative by the mayor of Paris Anne Hidalgo called “Reinventing Paris”.

In 2015, Hidalgo announced a unique architectural competition. “We are launching this call for innovative urban projects to build what the Paris of tomorrow might be. We encourage the formation of teams consisting of original and unconventional groups in which all disciplines can be represented, reinventing our ways of living, working, exchanging and sharing in Paris. Surprise us by offering Parisians a new vision of their city, revealing new quarters with a wealth of possibilities.”

It was the ideal, large scale project that could give visibility to the application of BE and nudge principles in this new area of environmentally friendly design. We entered the competition using behavioural insights to serve three main goals:

  • reinforce residents’ individual well-being in their specific apartments,
  • encourage eco-friendly behaviours in individual and shared spaces
  • reinforce community well-being within the building complex

We selected 1 of the 23 buildings which were part of the “Reinventing Paris competition: “Les Bains Douches Castagnary in Paris 15ème.”

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