Designed by architects Norbert Schoenauer and Maurice Desnoyers, Fermont comes complete with streets, a hotel, a hospital, a small Metro supermarket and even a tourism bureau. For all that, however, it is still run by the firm ArcelorMittal, which also owns the nearby iron mine. This means there are no police, who would be funded by the state; instead, Fermont is patrolled by its own private security force.
The town is also home to an extraordinary architectural feature: a residential megastructure whose explicit purpose is to redirect the local weather. Known as the Mur-écran or “windscreen”, this structure is an astonishing 1.3 kilometres in length, shaped roughly like a horizontal V or chevron. Think of it as a climatological Maginot Line, built to resist the howling, near-constant northern winds.
Extreme environments such as those found in the far north are laboratories of architectural innovation, genuinely requiring the invention of new building types. In any other context, a weather-controlling super-wall would sound like pure science fiction. But, in Fermont, urban climate control is built into the very fabric of the city – and has been since the 1970s.