• Holding organization: La Coroutine
  • Status: French association (loi 1901)
  • Financing: mainly users contributions+ donations (No public subsidies by now)
  • Partners: numerous networks/ Coworking Lille
  • People involved in the project:
    • More than 40 members/ collective auto-financed management
    • Practical and administrative tasks: users are volunteering for the tasks/ shared practical wiki + idiomatic card system in the space
  • Contact Persons: Simon Sarazin contact à
  • Main project link:

The idea

The Coroutine is the concrete transposition of the new aspirations and horizontal models behind the numeric communities. It means that the space is designed, managed for and by the people using it. Through this adaptive multifunctional tool, collaboration, mutual learning and innovation emerge and every person in his/her diversity can learn and get valued from another person. The French name “coroutine” deals with all aspects of daily life: being able to work, finding a housing for new comers in the city, developing ideas to improve the neighbourhood, getting help in a project. It provides a collaborative answer to the segmentation of activities/needs and profiles recurrent in our social and professional models. The space is open and made available to the very local community while the diversity of its members and its ergonomic setting enables resources weaving at the metropolitan, national or international level.

The local context

The Coroutine has moved in 4 different settings in Lille from the very beginning of the project. It is presently located in a popular area of Lille close to the city center. The space is made accessible for all through a constant adaptation goal: tackling the users’ challenges:

  • Providing a working desk and creative environment at an affordable price for different types of workers (freelancers, artists, students)
  • Making high-tech equipment (3D printer) and other services (coffee place, meeting rooms) available
  • Adapting the services access according to the people financial means and needs
  • Favouring alternative economies for people to be valued and rewarded according to their competencies, projects and help to the community

The project potential is huge as it creates a favourable learning and collaborative spot for individuals’ emancipation. The methodology, inner values and low-intensive capital needed make it replicable in many different settings.

The starting point

The project started with 5 freelance friends who needed a space to work (young researchers, entrepreneurs). May 2010/They started to occupy an unused commercial warehouse in the city centre of Lille. (3000m2). Many people where involved in this informal place called “les Hauts-Lieux” from activists for housing rights, to artists and young makers After less than 2 months, they were asked to leave by the owner (calm negotiations). MORE INFO on the space: The 5 initial persons decided to work on their project and create a coworking space.

Coroutine 1: September 2010/They found a 30m2 room in a house rented by a local association (Colline) at a low renting price. They also started to do research on co-working in Lille metropolitan region and decided to group as an association to make their project better known; no clear vision existed indeed at that time (November 2010). The space officially opened in February 2011. After a few months and nearly 8 workers involved in the project, they decided to look for a larger space in a pragmatic way: How many people are we now and how much can everyone pay? It was difficult to find a place fulfilling their aspirations; keeping the activity was essential. As they were limited in financial resources (need for a rent deposal), they decided to share their project and make a call for participation using a crowdfunding platform. They managed to get 2000 euros in 3 months. MORE INFO: At the same time, they made new partnerships and got closer to co-working Lille, another emerging shared place project. At some point, the emulation and convergence between the collectives and an existing cluster “Initiatives et cite” tempted them to share all together an available space of 1000m2. But the place was too big, the investments too high and the association too young.

Coroutine 2: July 2011/They moved to a larger space (60m2) in a neighbourhood in regeneration (Moulins). 1 year to strengthen and deploy the whole project: Structuring the community and developing new partnerships Diffusing the concept: media coverage Starting a “ neighbourhood watch project”:

Coroutine 3: September 2012/: 14 full-time coworkers in 60m2/ need for a larger place. New spot found that would allow new activities (fablab): 170m2 industrial space closed to the city center. To ensure the financial stability of the association in this real estate new step (need for renewal work and equipment), launch of a new call for participation (3000€). MORE INFO: As part to their initial motto, they kept the project and space open to anyone not asking for long-term contracts: trust in people’s responsibility to pay monthly, weekly or for a day. The Coroutine is France’s cheapest co-working space with a high diversity of profiles.


How does it work today?

3 types of spaces:

  • 1 coworking space: 20 desks (flexibility)/ 1 meeting room/ 1 coffee place
  • 1 maker space: places to repair, design, create objects and share practical competences

Available: 3D printer available/ Weaving loom/ sewing machine/ various tools.

  • A Space for other services: 1 social grocery + workshops+ events location: making the place available for conferences/meetings with different types of organizations (private/public/citizen- based)

Associations/ citizens’ movement: The Basic Income collective/ or the Colibris movement organized their information meeting at the Coroutine. A money box enables participants to contribute to the space. Public actor: A politician has recently used the space for a conference Companies: A regional company (Geonaute) has rented the meeting room for creativity workshops. The space is really open and adaptable while being anchored in the neighbourhood.

Users are in a contribution mode; it is not a matter of using a building as a simple renter rather being a community and collectively care for it.

Finances: Association basis with no permanent employed person; all members contribute to the place (different prices to use the place/ many people pay on a monthly basis -around 100euros. + online donations made available on the website



Users. Rising diversity of profiles: Freelancers mainly, artists, researchers, graphic designers. No salaried/ Not so many teleworkers.

Partners Human and existing communities partnerships:

  • Coworking Lille: the other coworking place in Lille; mutualisation of devices and intended to become the umbrella spot for mutualized working possibilities in Lille metropolitan area: one platform to access different services in different coworking places.
  • LMCU: The Urban Community of Lille: possible public support to come
  • Meuh Lab: Network to mutualize numeric tools
  • Catalyst initiative: collective created to enhance social innovation: 15000 euros budget

Added-value of the project

  • Better use of local resources: empty buildings then mutualisation of existing buildings; collect and reuse of tools (numerous gifts and donations)
  • Community creation: help, emulation in project development
  • Easy access through different financial facilities and arrangements. Ex: One user doesn’t pay to develop a project that would benefit the whole community
  • Revitalization of one of Lille’s district

Key success factors:

  • Implication of every user in the everyday management of the space (coffee/cleaning/devices use)
  • Work on the space's design for the well-being of all
  • Diversity of professions represented
  • Specific animation times: collective meals on Friday
  • Specific tools: information diffusion mailing, Facebook group, Rizzoma tool for organization purpose (moving periods).

Identified Challenges

  • Alternative systems: Transition period: after the second location and during the moving periods, better to find a place quickly to keep on the community motivation rather than waiting too long for the perfect spot.
  • Continuous volunteer work to keep the place known and accessible

Future perspectives

  • New project for a Coroutine 4 at Gare Saint Sauveur: Enlarge the material and training possibilities: develop a pole around industrial object fabrication/ fablab
  • Discussion on a way to access property so as not to be forced to pay an external rent
  • Develop an alternative money system: on-going discussions on a debt model through common good creation. New logic: make the space available for all with a price set by the user (work in progress)
  • Duplicate the space in the Region: how to advice other partners to create this kind of spaces in all the numeric spaces in the region?
  • Work on the replication of this space in rural settings

The Sources and Links