Case Study All Case Studies

Garage Moderne – Bordeaux

By Camille Vilain

Garage moderne – Modern garage

Le Garage Moderne has been one of the first solidarity-based garages in France. From 1990 to 2010 motorists have spent between 4500 and 5500 euros per year. Higher gas prices and car running costs have led people to buy car parts online to save money. These socio-economical circumstances saw the creation of the first cooperative garages where people can come and repair their own vehicles with personalized instruction available for a price including the renting of space and material, a subscription and/or lower hourly rates than in traditional garages. There are different types of cooperative garages in France:

  • Do-it-yourself auto-repair shops dedicated to renting tools and auto lifts or to selling car spares for maintenance. Customers repair their own car with the help of professional mechanics;
  • Non-profit repair facilities where people living in precarious situations can take care of their own vehicle or have it repaired at a lesser cost. These garages are financed through annual membership subscriptions and state subsidies.
  • Some garages are a mix of the two types, like Le Garage Moderne.

Le Garage moderne is also an exhibition space and party venue, an associative bar and a mechanic school.

Key actors

Le Garage Moderne has 27 employees (administration and mechanics), 10 volunteers and 400 members/mechanics apprentices.

Role of design

If the project initiators do not explicitly refer to design as such, the do-it-yourself spirit of their approach is highly valued by designers who want to promote user’s autonomy (see Enzo Mari’s utoprogettazione project). For David Gauntlett (Making is connecting: the social meaning of creativity, from DIY and knitting to You tube and Web 2.0, polity Press, 2011), making things create connections not only in the creative process but also among people who can relate around it. For him, DIY goes along with DIWO (Do it with others). Through the act of creation and a participative approach, individuals can find a place in society which value diversity and contribution to the common good.