Cities across Europe are focusing on becoming “smarter,” creating districts and homes with the latest smart technology. But one city, in particular, is looking to extend this concept to housing benefitting students. In the capital of southern France’s Occitanie region, a plan is underway to create a student residence, dubbed “Newton,” which will feature 166 rooms in an environmentally friendly building. Here’s how the city of Toulouse is putting the power of the future of smart cities in the hands of its students.— Philippe Leonard
Student housing redefined
Located in the Borderouge neighbourhood in the northern part of Toulouse, the new building will be equipped with a solar-panelled roof and the latest technology designed to make the lives of its residents—students—as easy as possible. With a budget of €12 million euros (€560,000 of which came from a crowdfunding campaign), the building will not only be environmentally friendly, complete with charging stations for e-cars out front, it will also be affordable, with rent starting at only €360 per month.
Rooms, which will measure 16-by-27 m2, will be equipped with smart radiators and thermostats. Through the use of two smartphone applications, residents will be able to control heat and lighting remotely, helping students manage their own electricity no matter where they’re at. For example, if a student doesn’t want to spend more than €50 a month on utilities, they’ll receive an alert when they have reached this limit, as well as advice on how to consume less.
The building will also help residents stay in the know when it comes to public transport (the metro sits just 150 metres away) thanks to a communal screen displaying public transportation times, as well as information about the city and weather. Elevators will be eco-friendly with a recharging system depending on the number of times they’re used, and mailboxes will even feature an e-concierge system. Managed by la Poste, the system—which is the first of its kind in Southwest France—will contact residents via SMS when they receive a package. In addition to charging stations for e-cars, the project will incorporate smart parking technology with the app MobilyGreen, indicating free parking spots so students don’t have to waste time and fuel searching for a place.
The philosophy behind the new building: offer quality services to residents while functioning as environmentally friendly as possible, serving as a model for other buildings (both residential and commercial) in cities around Europe to follow.