Let me tell you the story of my preferred place in Bordeaux: Darwin Ecosystem.
Arriving in Bordeaux in March 2018, I began my quest to get to know the city well, discover its landmarks and get used to its streets. It was my way of better understanding the city in which I was going to live for the next months.
After a few days in the city of wine, I went for a walk with a friend of mine along ‘La Garonne’, the river dividing Bordeaux into two parts. I ask my friend about what lies on the other side and there she told me about an amazing place called Darwin Ecosystem.
‘It is a place that is so original, alternative and worth the visit‘ she said. I kept it on my mind and decided to check it out whenever I have free time. Two months passed, and, since I was too busy with my courses and studies, I had completely forgotten about Darwin.
However, life always has its way of bringing you where you are meant to be. At the beginning of the summer of 2018, I had to find an internship. After searching a lot, I found an internship offer on the university wall that says: ‘looking for a web marketer and a guide for a company at Darwin Ecosystem‘. I applied immediately, got the job and thus my adventure at Darwin began!
So, what is Darwin Ecosystem?
Darwin Ecosystem: The first glimpse
At first sight, you feel as if you’re entering an old military area. You notice lots of bicycles coming in and out of the place. Graffities fill the buildings and the walls. People eating or having a drink on recycled tables and chairs. You observe something out of the ordinary. It is as if you teleported out of Bordeaux and are in a new city where people chose a new way of life.
The first time I went there, I saw students in unusual classrooms, skaters roaming around the place, employees working on their laptops under the summer sun. I felt a connection to this place. I have always wandered in cities I visited searching for unusual ideas and uncommon ideas. Here, I found what I was looking for. I was so anxious to spend the next 6 months working at this amazing place.
With the days passing, I began to understand more and more what Darwin Ecosystem represents. Since I worked as a guide there, I got to learn the whole story of the place and through participating in various events, I felt driven by its lifestyle and concept.
Darwin Ecosystem: A beautiful community with a rich history
History of the place
The location in which Darwin ecosystem exists now has been through lots of changes during the years. It has witnessed peace and war and was a place that brought joy as well as sadness.
Built in the 1860s, this place used to be a trading warehouse where many types of merchandises were stocked. It was later bought by the government that transformed it into a military warehouse before being occupied by the Germans during the second world war. In 2005 this place became completely abandoned and all its warehouses and buildings risked being demolished until a man named Philippe Barre decided, against all odds, to take the risk and give this location a new life and purpose through his Darwin project!
An uncommon concept
So what exactly is Darwin Ecosystem? It is many things at the same time. It is like a city inside a city. You can eat, drink, shop, practice sports, study party, or just walk around the place.
About 200 companies are present in an amazing co-working space where more than 600 employees work side by side in an awesome atmosphere. Creating such a co-working space in 2012 was a risk to take as the co-working concept was not very well known a few years ago. Nevertheless, the idea worked amazingly and now Darwin hosts more and more startups.
An organic restaurant is ready to welcome all visitors offering them healthy food with a 100% organic Darwin beer.
If you are into activities and sport, you will find what you are looking at Darwin thanks to more than 40 associations present there. You can skate, bike, get a massage, participate in a yoga course or practice a new hobby.
It doesn’t stop here! Darwin has its own school where students study in alternative methods. They do not use books but participate in activities and group works to better understand the professional life. The purpose is to try new more effective educational methods.
As its name says it, Darwin Ecosystem is an ecology friendly place where everything is recycled. Solar panels generate all the energy needed, and most employees come by bicycle or walking to work. All these elements make Darwin a perfect model for future ecological projects.
Visiting Darwin ecosystem for a few hours is much different than spending many months working there. During these months, this place became much more than a work environment. I learned, experienced, and discovered a new way of living inside a community that has its principles: ecology and joy of life!
I can say I was very lucky for so many reasons that I did my internship at Darwin. I had the chance to discover what co-working is and work with an amazing team surrounded by awesome people. I participated in many original events, organized by Darwin associations, such as crunches, picnics, pitch datings and more that aim to create better relationships between all this community’s components.
I learned that it is possible to live your life, and party all while reducing your impact on the environment. Darwin’s parties such as Ocean Climax and ‘Heures Heureuses’ are a must if you are ever in Bordeaux. All of these events are ecologically friendly and aim to sensitize people on the importance of protecting the environment.
I understood the importance of recycling and took this knowledge with me even after leaving Darwin. What is impressive about this project is that most of the people working there, take what they learned and apply it in their everyday lives.
Darwin, for me, is proof that there is always an original and ecological solution to abandoned sites and buildings. Rather than to destroy them, it is very possible to ‘recycle’ them and create an amazing and diverse project that welcomes people with different purposes.
It is a private location but feels like a public one. What gives it its charm, is the rich history of the location and the diversity of the activities that Darwin include. It is an amazing community that welcomes people and teaches them a new way of looking at the world.
Darwin ecosystem is not just a place, it is a way of life, a new concept of living, working and having fun that should be transmitted and duplicated everywhere in the world.