La Smala

Lausanne, Lausanne, Switzerland

  • Last updated: March 14, 2018 (2 seconds ago)
  • Listing created on: November 27, 2017

Mission Statement

The purpose of la Smala is to facilitate the development of projects aimed at reducing the ecological footprint. For this purpose, it undertakes initiatives offering alternatives to overconsumption and overproduction.
In particular, it organizes the management of “vacant” houses, on a provisional basis, within the framework of contracts known as “loans for use”, and periodic meetings of reflection on the topic of degrowth.

Community Description

Since 1993, Smala institute develops experience/expertise in socio-environmental entrepreneurship and eco-community building, a kind of living lab. It provides training, coaching and hosting for over 1’800 beneficiaries from 1993 to 2017, out of which ¼ are social entrepreneurs, and 3/4 are artists, families, students, seniors and unemployed.

Smala has managed over 40 co-housing spaces with intergenerational and creative “hives”. We started in the industrial district of Lausanne “le Flon”, contributing in revitalizing it as a new source of creativity, a little Soho. Thanks to the socio-economic success encountered with this first initiative, Smala received from the public and private partners new opportunities to develop similar “living laboratories” in other locations.

Ever since 1995, Smala team has tackled the challenge of incubating 40 short and mid-term hives, eco-life learning centres, with 5 to 30 cohabitants and co-workers in each location, in the Lausanne area. These temporary hives had a duration of 1 to 10 years, and have been developed in partnership and/or supported by local and federal administrations for housing, social services, culture, academic research, adult training, NGOs and sociocultural centres.

These activities have made Smala institute resilient to societal changes and demonstrated its ability to manage complex governance situations.

Since 2013, Smala moved to a new step in starting the development of long-term communities, on rural lands with cooperative ownership. While searching for international references to compare Smala’s innovative methods with other initiatives, Smala experts have identified the Global Ecovillage Network (GEN) as one of the most efficient knowledge alliances for social entrepreneurship learning; Smala is now a member of GEN-Europe.

Smala experts have included a special focus and expertise on transversal/soft skills building and fair trade culture within community building, both aspects being considered as key complements to vocational skills for active citizenship and right livelihood.

Smala’s leading team is composed of pioneers of change who contributed significantly in the transition of this industrial district and/or other socially innovative places and enterprises.

By moving so many times our headquarters and healing various new places, Our team has developed a replicable art of co-living and co-working, using informal “learning while doing” methods. It became a fair set of rules of functioning (governance) that we updated at each new community project, becoming the Ecopol label after 20 years of experience.

2014-2018: Smala builds ecovillages!

After incubating the Bâtir Groupé cooperative from 2006 to 2013, we bought a land in Cheiry and then in Grandvaux. We built both houses and human relationships. Smala officially becomes a member of GEN-Europe, the ecovillage network (2013). Then, the successes followed. We inaugurated Cheiry on the 21st of August 2016, and then the ecovillage « Berber » in Grandvaux the 25th of Novembre 2017. Smala is a small federation of communities which born in Romandie. We favour social ecology on the basis of the Ecopol social contract, beyond the pre-requisites already well established in the Swiss culture, such as energy-efficiency, affordable rents in co-operative and infrastructure sharing (laundry, vegetable gardens, party room, carpool, etc.).

We organized more than 150 conferences and sharing evenings on the art of living together between 2013 and 2018. Our Ecopol service is now consulted by dozens of eco-project holders, each with their own sensibilities, and we have studied dozens of projects to help others develop their vision of eco-housing.

We are celebrating our 25th anniversary on September 8, 2018, in our new Transition Training Center, Berber House, in the heart of the magnificent Lavaux UNESCO Heritage.


  • Type(s): Commune (organized around sharing almost everything), Ecovillage (organized around ecology and sustainability), Cohousing (individual homes within group owned property), Shared Housing, Cohouseholding, or Coliving (multiple individuals sharing a dwelling), Student Housing or Student Co-Op
  • Programs & Activities: School, Educational Institute or Experience, Volunteer, Internship, or Apprenticeship, Neighborhood, Community Housing, or Homeowner’s Association, Ethical Business, Investment Group, or Alternative Currency, Organization, Resource, or Network, WWOOF’ing, Guest Farming, Festivals, Conferences, Events
  • Location: Small Town or Village


  • Status: We have land we have developed on
  • Area: 0.1423 hectares
  • Current Residence Types: Multi-family homes
  • Current Number of Residences: 3
  • Planned number of residences: 6
  • Planned Residence Types: Single-family homes, Multi-family homes, Room(s) in a house or building, Natural built structues, Lots to build on
  • Housing Provided: Rental, Included in Membership
  • Land owned by: The entire community membership


  • Adult Members: 30
  • Child Members: 15
  • Non-member Residents: 10
  • Percent Women: 50%
  • Percent Men: 50%
  • Percent Transgender: 0%
  • Visitors accepted: Yes
  • Visitor Process:

    visit and come to a first contact meting (2x a month)

  • Open to new Members: Yes
  • Membership Process:

    3 steps : first contat trial period 6-24 months, full membership


  • Decision Making: Modified Consensus (everyone agrees, with some exceptions or fallbacks.)
  • Identified Leader: Yes, multiple identified leaders
  • Leadership Core Group: Yes


  • Join Fee: $0
  • Dues, Fees, or Shared Expenses: Yes
  • Shared Income: Partial share of income
  • Required Labor Contribution: Encouraged or suggested
  • Open to members with existing debt: Yes (some debt)
  • Additional Comments:

    90% self-employed members, no employees

Sustainability Practices

  • Energy Infrastructure: We use both systems.
  • Current renewable energy generation: Almost All, around 90%
  • Energy sources: Solar, Clean Energy from the Grid
  • Planned renewable energy generation: 100%
  • Current food produced: Between 26-49%
  • Planned food produced: From 50-75%
  • Food produced locally: From 50-75%


  • Common Facilities: Common House, Garden(s), Vehicle Share, Library, Workshop, Outbuilding(s), Large Scale Kitchen, Stage or Auditorium, Fire pit, Swingsets & play areas, Internet
  • Internet Available: Yes, community provides it
  • Internet Fast?: Yes, exceptionally.
  • Cell Phone Service: Good for most people.
  • Shared meals: Approximately all dinners
  • Dietary Practice: Omnivorous (plants and animals), Local (food sourced within 150 miles), Organic (no pesticides or synthetic fertilizers), GMO Free (only non-genetically modified organisms), Mostly Vegetarian, Opportunivore (dumpster diving, nature harvesting, etc.), Gluten-Free
  • Dietary Choice or Restrictions: Somewhat – there are some dietary restrictions or customs.
  • Special Diets OK: Yes
  • Alcohol Use: Yes, used occasionally.
  • Tobacco Use: Yes, used occasionally.
  • Common Spiritual Practice(s): Not a particularly spiritual or religious community
  • Spiritual Practice Expected?: No
  • Education Style(s): Up to each family or individual
  • Healthcare Options: Partial, Special, or Limited Community Plan

Photo Gallery

Video Gallery

Community Network or Organization Affiliations

The Fellowship for Intentional Community (FIC), Global Ecovillage Network (GEN)

Community Affiliations

GEN-Europe – GEN-Suisse


social entrepreneurship, art & culture