SAMOA : Creative Urban Developer

Vue aérienne - ile de Nantes © Valéry Joncheray/Samoa

Samoa is a publicly owned agency with a dual mission: the steering of the urban redevelopment project of the Île de Nantes and the economic development of the cultural and creative industries. With this double status, Samoa can experiment with flexibility and originality with new ways of shaping the city and its uses.

The Île de Nantes is made up of 337 hectares that have been evolving for over 15 years : it is one of Europe’s most iconic projects in urban regeneration. The project is a laboratory for urban revival and closely involves citizens in shaping the city, from local residents and visitors to economic stakeholders.

Creative Island

On the île de Nantes, you’ll find culture, innovation and creativity everywhere, it has become a mindset. With its dual purpose, Samoa has been able over the years to give rise to an area conducive to hosting creative and cultural initiatives and helping them grow. This has given a unique role to the sector, which accounts for more than 1,000 direct jobs on the island.

Key figures :

  • 337 hectares dedicated to urban innovation
  • Over 7,000 students (including 5,000 in the creative and cultural industries)
  • 100 research professors
  • 9,000 firms in cultural and creative industries in the Nantes Saint-Nazaire region
  • 38,000 jobs in cultural and creative industries in the Nantes Saint-Nazaire region

Computing Spaces. Stéréolux. Nantes (Loire-Atlantique) 03/2019 © Vincent Jacques/Samoa

Île de Nantes: an urban lab to experiment and innovate

Samoa is a living laboratory that has been carrying out innovative schemes for 15 years to invent the city of the future. In line with its Manifesto for a Sustainable Island, it conducts experimental projects that combine new technology, creativity and uses. These projects involve industrial players, creative start-ups, citizens and users, and local authorities.

The purpose of experimenting is threefold: to test original programmes to meet city challenges, to give willing firms a chance to try out their technological innovations and to involve citizens in the shaping of the city.

  1. Manifesto for a Sustainable Island
  2. “Nuage”, the street furniture that informs you about air quality
  3. An energy self-sufficient inflation station
  4. “Tourmedia”, a modular and multimedia street furniture dedicated to videomapping



Experimental projects conducted on Nantes island by Samoa

International action

Samoa contributes to the Nantes metropolitan area’s strategy to make Nantes attractive abroad. It plays an active role in three areas of development:

Cooperation with international partner cities:


Montreal, Canada

Samoa has developed close ties with several leading players in Montreal, Canada:

  • Partenariat du Quartier des Spectacles in Montreal
  • Zú, a creative hub dedicated to entertainment and creative industries

Find out more u

RECIFE AEREA Credito : Leo Caldas

Recife, Brazil

Samoa oversees a cooperative project with the city of Recife, Brazil, commissioned by Nantes Métropole.

This project involves many partners in Nantes and Recife. It is based on two main concerns:

  • Sustainable and inclusive transformation of urban heritage
  • Development of innovation, uses and technology in urban services and the creative economy

Find out more u

European Commission funding programmes :

Refill logo

(2016 – 2018)

An URBACT project on ensuring long-term effects of temporary use. Nantes is part of a network consortium of ten European cities. The consortium wants to identify instruments that ensure long-term effects of temporality and to explore how the dynamics of/in temporary use can leave a permanent mark in our cities. REFILL stands for “reuse of vacant spaces as driving force for innovation on local level.

5Ponts logo Nantes

(2016 – 2021)

The 5Bridges project is a local consortium of 6 partner organizations including Samoa. The aim of the project is to experiment an innovative way to tackle the interconnectedness of the major factors of urban poverty, and to break the circle of social and spatial polarization.



Break in the Desk logo

Break in the Desk
(2015 – 2017)

Break in the Desk is working on the innovation of the current training possibilities on entrepreneurship for the cultural and creative industries by making the competences, skills and entrepreneurial attitudes a means for artists/creatives to interact with other public and private contexts (PA/SME). The goal is to push them to become trainers, promoters and facilitators of innovation and problem solving through creative thinking and intervention.

European and international networks

Eurocities logo


Eurocities is a network of 190 cities in 39 countries, representing 130 million people. Through joint work, knowledge-sharing and coordinated Europe-wide activity, Eurocities ensures that cities and their people are heard in Europe. Samoa participates with Nantes Métropole to the working group culture and creativity.

Global Cultural Districts Network logo

Global Cultural Districts Network

The Global Cultural Districts Network (GCDN) is an independent, international association committed to improving the quality of urban life through the contribution of the arts, culture and creative industries.

Île de Nantes has been one of the network’s members since 2019 alongside world-renowned districts such as Times Square in New York, Culture Mile in London and West Kowloon Cultural District in Singapore.

Hub Europe Pays de la Loire Logo

Hub Europe

Samoa is also a member of Hub Europe in the Pays de la Loire region. This group brings together the region’s leading players in research and innovation. Hub Europe shares information and best practices in Europe for better collective use of opportunities for funding and partnerships that the EU offers.

You would like to plan a visit ?

Samoa and the urban project of the Île de Nantes is a best practice case for several subjects such as urban planning, industrial heritage, temporary use, development of creative and cultural industries. We host many national and international groups every year and are able to do so in English.

Click here to organize a visit

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