Research areas

Research theme 1: The Architecture of Territories: Transport, urban forms, environment. History and prospects
Research theme 2: Architecture and Cities in Contemporary Asia: Heritages and projects
Research theme 3: Heritage and Project
Research theme 4: Architecture and technical culture
Research theme 5: Present Day Architecture: Mediations and Concrete Outcomes
Research theme 6: Dissemination, transmission, teaching

Research theme 1: The Architecture of Territories: Transport, urban forms, environment. History and prospects


The 'Architecture of Territories' theme is based on the encounter between two approaches usually worked on separately. It brings together researchers focusing on architectural or urban projects involving metropolitan transport and authors of historical studies that address the city notably in terms of transport infrastructures: canals, railways, highways. These latter studies bear on the dense, consolidated, historical city and its transformation, as well as on peripheral territories often undergoing rapid change. What triggered the creation of this theme was the idea that our spatial and historical analysis skills would enable us, as architectural research laboratories, to contribute to a renewal of current approaches. Today's environmental changes—climate and energy crises, urban sprawl—call for integrated approaches, different practices and an abandoning of the segmentation that has for so long marked the urban development and transport professions. 

Research aims

This research theme is above all multidisciplinary in intent, an emphasis inherited from an approach developed over recent decades by researchers with a dual training: architects with doctorates in history, sociology or urbanism and development, or historians and sociologists engaged in teaching and research in schools of architecture. This multidisciplinary approach embraces:

  • a vision of urban production rooted in specifically architectural issues – built forms, density, programmes, open spaces – and notably in architecture's operational side.
  • architectural and urban history from the 18th to the 21st century.
  • the concept of landscape as a new paradigm for urban and environmental analysis, in terms both of interpretation and territorial projects.
  • forward planning approaches involving consideration of the city of the future and the spatial forms of sustainable urban development.

This theme aims to give current thinking about the contemporary city the benefit of historical studies of French, European, colonial and North American cities since the 18th century: types of housing estates, plans for embellishment and extension, etc. Other studies focus on the present context – recent operations in North America, Europe and France (La Défense, new towns in the Ile-de-France region) – but with the tools of historical analysis.    

Moreover, long-term assessment is being increasingly called for in forward-planning explorations of forms of sustainable urban development. In addition, then, to the themes of 'transport' and 'urban forms', the 'environment' hub is continuing studies hitherto undertaken under the heading 'sustainable development'. The change of terminology signals a receptiveness to project approaches bringing to existing contexts a knowledge of their historical and cultural depth; and to approaches in terms of 'landscape' seen as the keeper of territorial memory – as simultaneously the subject of a geohistory of human occupation and a vehicle for new types of project.


In the course of the 20th century a conception of mobility in terms of flows, together with an idea of transport infrastructures based solely on circulation, developed as a logical consequence of the primacy accorded the automobile. Sustainable development and the energy crisis now constitute a radical challenge to the automobile ethos and the urban growth associated with it, but these are not the sole factors contributing to projects' changing circumstances. Thus the increasingly important role of transport by rail and water is causing conjecture as to its part in the structuring of territories. In European cities the frequent reutilisation of prior infrastructures is raising issues regarding management of existing networks and changes in the uses associated with them. The study of the spatial forms of sustainable mobility emphasising mass transport and non-mechanised travel calls for a deeper understanding of the relationships between infrastructures and territories, and between spatial practices and transport availability.

The point, then, is to aid the integration of a physical and spatial dimension into the sometimes abstract, econometric approaches that can dominate research into transport. In this respect our work takes several forms. Our participation in public research programmes sponsored by MCC (Ministry of Culture and Communications), PUCA (Plan for Urbanism, Construction and Architecture) and PREDIT (Joint Ministerial Programme for Land Transport Research and Innovation) includes assessment missions and the organising of colloquia, seminars and thesis supervisions which contribute to improving the epistemological systems that shape our grasp of the fields in question.

Urban forms

Now would seem to be a good time for a fresh perspective on a concept that became a driving force for architectural research into the city in  the 1970s: the 'urban form'.

We bring a dual logic to our exploration of this concept. Firstly we raise the issue of the specific character of urban research in architecture schools. One of the most striking features of this research has been resort to the term 'urban form'. With the term 'morphogenesis' once again back in favour, it seems relevant to us to re-examine just what the 'urban form' concept involves in terms of issues and methodology. This includes a reflexive approach to the implications of an urban research style that has been developing in schools of architecture for over more than thirty years now, in the wake of the work of Italian architects and also drawing on English and French studies. This reconsideration entails a reassessment of a corpus that has generously fuelled the practice of professionals in the fields of urban management and development. We shall look into the way the 'morphological' approach has been interpreted beyond the frontiers of our discipline and our country, and into what we are witnessing in terms of its revival in studies of the diffuse city and consideration of large territories.


The scope and methods of all disciplines connected to spatial planning are evolving in line with the increasing complexity of environmental issues. These latter cannot be reduced to a single sphere, but rather demand combinations of knowledge and skills.

Speculation about the future of our cities necessarily involves a second challenge, which is that of working on an existing context. Urban transformation projects in European and American cities are now carried out on a partial, ad hoc basis and mainly affect already urbanised territories with their own established networks; the most ambitious projects only modify urban systems marginally. In this context the concept of the environment designates a prerequisite for the project and for thinking about the city at the opposite pole from the clean slate postulate; it is a concept that calls for renewed attention to the long-term nature of urban transformations and to resistance on the part of territories, these not being infinitely malleable.

Thus architectural research contributes to the shaping of hypotheses of urban development in the context of the anticipated exhaustion of most forms of fossil energy, the spectre of climate change, the tensions between competition for use of land and space, and the depletion and deterioration of natural resources. The creation of the 'Urban Futures' Labex (Excellence Laboratory) and the push for closer relationships between earth science researchers and environmental specialists mean that we can pursue interdisciplinary dialogue and expand research involving members of different Joint Research Units, in particular those of the Université Paris-Est Community of Universities and Establishments (COMUE).

Researchers in architecture and the environmental sciences are thus able to share certain issues and concepts: that of metabolism, for example, as a means of describing the spatial organisation of living systems. Thus certain research programmes on sustainable development bring together researchers – from the Ministry of Culture's Ignis Mutat Res programme on architecture, cities and landscapes seen through the energy filter, and the National Research Agency's 'Sustainable Cities and Buildings' venture – for the project FRUGAL (Rural Forms of the Urban), which focuses on low-population-density territories in France, and for the Efficacity programme.


These three themes – transport, urban forms, environment – are being studied on territories which sometimes overlap. The Paris area stands out for the accumulation of studies on the capital's history carried out by the Unit's researchers, its geographical proximity and its institutional weight (presence of planning actors): this results in ready response by Unit members to calls for research tenders, together with their participation in the debate on the region's future at colloquia and workshops organised by local government and research institutes in Paris and the Ile-de-France.

The studies devoted to Paris are closely tied to the debate on the future of the Ile-de-France region, which has found a new lease of life with the 'Metropolis of Greater Paris' and its international call for projects. Unit members were part of three of the ten international architectural teams participating in the 'Grand Pari de l’Agglomération Parisienne' and then of the International 'Grand Paris' Workshop. Thus today's research is backed by a heritage, various existing dynamics, and actual projects, and this makes it part of both a very long-term process and a contextualising of  current debate.

In addition to the Unit's participation in many national research programmes, reflection on the future of the Paris metropolitan area continues in the Architecture, Culture, Society (ACS) and IPRAUS laboratories. The ACS laboratory has become home to a winning team from the National Research Agency's call for tenders for 'Space and Territory: The Spatial Enigmas of Life in Society'. 

Specific themes can also be seen emerging: the consequences of new transport infrastructures in periurban territories; the future of low-population-density territories; and the building of the Ile-de-France region from the institutional and operational points of view.

Our work also touches on other terrains: some of them French (big metropolitan areas, medium-sized cities); and others – European and American metropolises and Asian cities covered by the 'Architecture and Cities of Contemporary Asia' theme – which cast useful light on the case of Paris.

Research programmes

In addition to the activities emerging from the context of funded research and participation in the transversal 'Energy Efficiency' seminar, organised as part of the Unit's structural seminars, more specifically targeted research programmes are being organised:

  • 'Transformation of cities and territories (18th–21st century); architectural and urban forms, projects, actors': Study days, publications.
  • 'The inventory of Greater Paris – The invention of Greater Paris: Plans, studies and projects, 1913–2013': Colloquium and exhibition, seminar, publications, 2013–2016.
  • "Reinventing public transport in France: forty years of tramways, own-lane public transport and guided transport systems': Seminar aimed at providing a response to a call for proposals, in association with the Association for the History of Railways (AHICF), 2012–2015.
  • The City and Public Transport: Paris and Washington. Transit-oriented development and control of urban sprawl, from strategy to implementation.' An international bilateral seminar organised in association with the National Center for Smart Growth Research at the University of Maryland, as part of the Urban Futures excellence laboratory, October 2014–March 2015.

Links to teaching

The activities relating to this theme feed into the teaching at Masters and post-Masters level at the four National Schools of Architecture represented in the Joint Research Unit: Paris-Belleville, Paris–Malaquais, Paris–La Villette and Marne-la-Vallée. They are particularly significant in the post-Masters 'Architecture and Urban Project' course at Paris-Belleville and the European Union 'Urban Planning' Masters, which associates several 'Urban Futures' laboratories, including the Paris Institute for Urbanism and the French Institute for Urbanism at Paris-Est, Hafencity in Hamburg and the Politecnico di Milano.

Two other postgraduate courses at Paris-Belleville – Architecture and Major Hazards and Architecture and Heritage – together with the Architect-Urbanist course at Marne la Vallée, offer specialist studies closely related to crucial aspects of the project for the contemporary city and sustainable urban development.

Our research also contributes to the courses on research organised as part of the post-Masters Architecture Research course at Paris-La Villette.

One of our goals for the next four-year cycle is to enhance the connection between research and training by having teaching staff and students take part in the Unit's work, while also creating closer links between research, theoretical and project teaching, and professional practices. The postgraduate courses mentioned above provide excellent couplings between research, pedagogy and operational practices. 

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Research theme 2: Architecture and Cities in Contemporary Asia: Heritages and projects

Background and specifics

Among the AUSser Joint Research Unit's fields of study to have gained recognition in France and abroad, the work on Asian cities and their architecture first begun in the 1970s has inspired an entire branch of architectural and urban research. The unit's work looks at the structure of cities in terms of the concept of the spatial project, its roots in the teaching of architecture and its role in action research: expertise, evaluation, etc. The multidisciplinary cooperative ventures undertaken with teams in France and elsewhere hinge on this standpoint.

The urban territories of Southeast Asia – in particular Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam – are key parts of this research. China and India, next-door neighbours to this part of Asia, as Élisée Reclus put it, are studied for their specific spatial configurations and their roles in Southeast Asian urban production: the research covers both long-term exchanges and the contemporary processes that have led to intensification of transnational and regional circulation of urban references.

Research aims

The unifying theme of our research is the production in contemporary Asia of distinctive spatial systems linked to cities' historical trajectory, and to the residual image or the memory of inherited spatial cultures. The specific character of the products of urbanisation in this geographical zone has been theorised by certain researchers  (Bishop, Phillips and Yeo 2003; Bunnel, Drummond and Ko 2002; Dick and Rimmer 2009), who have developed anthropological, sociological and geographical approaches to the analysis of contemporary cities. By contrast, few authors have put the materiality of urban structure at the heart of the architectural and urban project. Our approach, which characterises our work on architectural and urban transformation, foregrounds differentiated processes of coproduction of urban space. Our research aims at a grasp of new situations of contact and cultural exchange  (Castiglioni et al., 2006) and the interactions and métissages which would appear to be contributing to the development of novel expressions of a contextualised modernity at local level (Robinson 2006).

Our research focuses firstly on changes in urban spatial systems and their modes of production as related to globalisation and political and economic transitions. We also address the evolution and resilience of the spatial cultures of Asian cities in the context of the rise of regional interaction. The intensification of such interaction has been studied by geographers, historians and political scientists (Fau et al., 2012; Frank and Goldblum, 2012), but there has been little evaluation of the role of these dynamics in the production of the contemporary city.

Research themes and programmes

Analysis of the production of the city and its forms of architecture in a context of globalisation and regionalisation involves three complementary themes.

1. Intersecting circulation and reception of spatial cultures

Asia is now witnessing acceleration and change in respect of architectural and urban exchanges, their content, their tangible and intangible vectors – verbal and visual; the Internet and media culture – and their networks. The aim is to identify the complex interplay of transfers at work and its effect on spatial cultures. Five types of objects whose circulation modifies the production of cities are considered:

- people, users and professionals (practitioners, theorists and teachers: developers, international experts, architects, urbanists, engineers and large organisations operating internationally)

- theories and doctrines, verbal and visual ideations: concepts and corpuses regulating heritage (UNESCO), comparative urban planning cultures

- subjective images, individual and collective representations of the world

- architectural, urban and landscape systems: housing developments, gated communities, towers, malls, garden cities, eco-neighbourhoods; and public spaces such as squares, parks, gardens, etc.

- buildings or certain parts of buildings.

The local aspect of these exchanges is registered in terms of scholarly and popular reception. Local actors – architects, urbanists, civil servants, residents, developers, etc. – are considered not only as recipients, but also as people capable of 'acting on', of negotiating and coming to terms with transferred elements.

The research sets out to throw light on approaches to the spatial cultures at work in projects, their supposed standardisation by globalisation, and their self-referencing. In addition to exchanges on a global scale, trajectories are studied within Asian contexts: Southeast Asia, India and China. As for these new networks formed in response to political issues, are they or will they be producers of original cultures, and even models? This question is notably studied by the Dynamite Excellence Laboratory's 'Circulation of Urban References and Local Assemblages' group, to which the members of this segment of the research unit belong.

In addition, the tense situations facing many Asian territories today – including vulnerability to natural disasters; steep increases in demographic flows or, conversely, massive ageing of the population; and urban growth – call for comparisons at regional level. These situations are also examined as mirroring issues faced, to a lesser extent, by our European metropolises.

2. Relationships with tangible and intangible heritages in projects

The advent of patrimonial concerns changes the way heritages are considered (Askew, 1994; Daly and Winter, 2012; Logan, 2002). To what extent do inherited systems influence projects? And what are the perceptions, representations and interpretations of them where transformations of territories are concerned?

These projects involve different kinds of processes:

- local survivals which find expression in adaptation of earlier systems or appropriation and reconfiguration of new ones in accordance with internalised practices

- 'back to the roots' strategies and retrospective fictions that provide interpretations and even reinventions of heritages, which are explicitly reactivated, consciously or otherwise, in new compositions

- patrimonial programmes which are potent vectors for internationalisation of ideas and practices, and thus of forms, through the imposition of norms (Jenkins, 2008). The research also bears on mutation of territories situated within the sphere of influence of a major heritage site, especially one on the UNESCO World Heritage list (Hitchcock et al., 2010; Winter, 2007).

An initial programme bears on the influence of their agrarian heritage on the current state of affairs in cities in Southeast Asia, and is based on studies of  Chiang Mai, Yogyakarta, Nay Pyi Taw and Mangapura. A second programme looks at the contemporary structure of cities whose heritage has been surveyed at national or international level (the latter via UNESCO): Luang Prabang (Laos), Hoi An and Hue (Vietnam), Melaka (Malaysia) and Chiang Mai (Thailand). 

A complementary field of research, developed via a collective, exploratory research programme financed by the French Ministry of Culture and Communications, revolves around the vocabulary of heritage in architectural and urban projects in Southeast Asia, in terms of its circulation, reception and creation. This program studies the development of novel heritage knowledge and practices in Southeast Asia and their roots in the gaps between internationalised heritage discourse and local approaches. These gaps are considered opportunities for interchange enabling the creation of 'interstitial spaces' (Bhabha 1994) in which situations of consultation and conflict make possible the transformation and intermingling of diverse heritage referents. The approach involves the analysis of architectural and urban projects in Cambodia, Indonesia and Thailand. These projects are seen as focal points for the expression of heritage-related specialist and technical cultures and for the negotiation of miscellaneous interests. They are examined in the light of oral and written vernacular communications which describe, support and sometimes oppose them, and through the contrasting of competing and conflicting discourses. This research uses a comparative method that identifies the singularity of of the heritage practices examined in the seven case studies. Its goal is an approach capable of throwing light on other contexts: one which provides a combined analysis of projects, discourses and the 'interplay of actors' in heritage practices.

This research and the resultant conclusions have necessitated the creation of shared tools. Since 1996 IPRAUS has been home to a programme for forming a corpus of urban plans and projects. A study of the relevant vocabulary, and in particular that relating to heritage, is planned as part of the Unit's group activities. 

3. 'Ideas of the city' in Asia

Contemporary urban phenomena in Asia can no longer be understood using the concepts that have long served for defining what the city is, and for distinguishing it from what it is not – as in the 'urban'/'rural' pairing, for example. The obsoleteness of these concepts is made clear by the radical urban transformations which mark these cities' access to modernity and seem to call into question the very idea of the 'city' as a recognisable physical entity. This research theme studies the evolution of the meanings attached to these concepts and the representations now associated with Asian cities as spatial, political and social entities. The aim is to find keys to an understanding of Asia's complex urban realities and to come up with adequate theoretical and methodological tools for studying them.

Our current research, undertaken as part of the Urban Knowledge Network Asia (UKNA) programme funded by the European Union, sets out to establish if, and to what extent, urban planning reflects imaginings linked to the future, shaped by urbanists' heterogeneous cultural backgrounds, and rooted in different ethical, political and philosophical systems. Do discourses on the city, now disseminated worldwide by international bodies, influence the way professionals think? How do actors involved in different ways in the urban structure describe a city that is 'agreeable to live in'? What is their vision of 'urban futures'? What are the ideals pursued by architects, urbanists and public sector actors? Our research explores the way urban planning establishes a relationship with the heritages of the past. In the era of modernity, this planning cannot ignore inherited models and traces, even if the relationship in question is sometimes expressed in the form of rejection. It is relevant, then, to investigate how plans for cities opt for a break with inherited traces or, on the contrary, are fuelled by cities' spatial and cultural legacies. What kinds of heritage are accorded value in the shaping of the contemporary city, and for what reasons?

Research reflecting the perspectives of different disciplines analyses urban planning documents in terms of their theoretical, discursive and ethical groundings. It examines in particular the reactivation of inherited, sometimes ancient urban models in plans for contemporary cities; today's use of heritage and the manipulation of urban history by selective deletion of some inherited traces and the valorisation of others; the role of heritage in urban strategies; various discourses on contemporary utopias and urban ideals; and 'virtualisation' of the city, designed as a screen for economic activity and a platform for technological evolution.


This Asian theme enjoys special status within the Joint Research Unit, given the latter's considerable research history, its number of doctoral students, its many national and international partnerships and its connection with a specific cultural area. These characteristics call for an appropriate mode of functioning, which is based on:

A nucleus of disciplines

The research activities are based on well-established entities: the Siem Reap-Angkor Observatory (architecture, heritage, development) and the Corpus of Maps of Asian Cities programme, both scheduled for marked changes in the next plan, with its new research emphases on the regionalisation of the production of cities.

Multidisciplinary programmes backed by national and international academic partnerships are reaping the benefits of old synergies and new cooperative ventures linked to the presence of students, doctoral students – the number of co-tutelle theses is rising – and young postdoctoral researchers.

Two specialist networks are coordinated or co-coordinated by the Unit: 'Metropolises of Asia and the Pacific: Comparative Architecture and Urbanism', created in 1999 (website currently under reconstruction); and the international 'Urban Knowledge Network Asia' (UKNA), coordinated by four European institutions: the Paris-Belleville National School of Architecture, the International Institute for Asian Studies (IIAS) in Leiden, the Architecture Faculty of the Delft University of Technology, and University College London (

The Unit belongs to four specialist networks:

  • the national thematic network DocAsie (CNRS, InSHS)
  • the GIS Asie (Scientific Interest Group) and Asie & Pacifique network, coordinated by the CNRS and the Fondation Maison des Sciences de l’Homme (FMSH). The network's 2011 congress was held at the Paris-Belleville National School of Architecture (ENSAPB)
  • the European Association for South East Asian Studies (EUROSEAS) network
  • the scientific interest group on Asia coordinated by the CNRS's Institut National des Sciences Humaines et Sociales; ENSAPB is the sole body within the group representing research in architecture.

Forms of promotion and dissemination

Teachers and researchers at ENSAPB have access to an exceptional collection of illustrated material and maps, and one of the goals is to use networking to promote this collection and bring it greater visibility.

A further aim is to extend our provision of information on architecture in Asian cities.  A monitoring system has already been set up by the Unit and the coming creation of a dedicated website will mean increased scope and outreach.

Transversal activities

We are working on comparative projects  involving glossaries and maps and on casting new light on cultural exchanges. Studies of the spheres of influence of major heritage sites are going to be carried out in association with the Unit's heritage researchers.

Interaction with teaching and architecture-related professions

The researchers working on this theme are striving for interaction between research and teaching, at bachelor and postgraduate level in National Schools of Architecture and in other higher education and research establishments in France and abroad. Focusing on the project as both the practice and goal of research, the connections with teaching are nonetheless marked by a diversity of approaches. These include:

  • in Masters 1 and 2: project workshops addressing architectural, urban and territorial concerns; lectures on Asian cities; and research training workshops.
  • at post-Masters level: notably the 'Architectural and Urban Project' DSA (Diplôme de Spécialisation en Architecture), which examines the cities of Paris, Shanghai and Hanoi.
  • at doctoral level: since doctoral studies were instituted in 1992 17 students have defended theses on Asian subjects; 20 theses are now in preparation, five of them in co-tutelle with Asian institutions in Thailand, Indonesia and China.
  • at post-doctoral level: the theme is currently being followed up by two post-doctoral students whose focuses and research tie in with the present specialist project and fuel it in various ways.

For many years now the theme has had direct links with local and international actors – designers, technicians, specialists – in the production of cities in Asia. The present project is pursuing this dynamic via existing partnerships and at the same time enhancing them by introducing new goals and areas of investigation into the teaching context. Fresh possibilities are opening up for action research into heritage and transport in Vietnam's big cities.

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Research theme 3: Heritage and Project

The researchers addressing this new theme have already worked on heritage matters for the AUSser Joint Research Unit. As a focus for institutional policies governed by set procedures and implemented by professional practitioners, heritage – of the architectural, urban and landscape varieties – is a way of coming to grips with the future of architecture and the city.  Historical knowledge is just a starting point: cities and buildings become heritage objects only in response to the attitudes and practices of their societies and institutions. 

Research aims

At issue in architecture schools is not only the matter of historical monuments, but also that of a built or vegetal heritage on a more or less large scale. This heritage undergoes regular modification or demolition in response to urban growth or the need to adapt the built context to new uses and (notably environmental) norms. In France this heritage presents the paradox of unlimited extension of its paradigm combined with rigorous regulation of the procedures governing its most ironclad segment: historical monuments. Outside this sphere vagueness and bureaucratic indeterminacy hold sway.    

Faced with the dual obstacle of galloping heritage extension and systematic museumisation, the status of the project is constantly under challenge. Unfortunately, research in architecture schools seems to be lagging behind the issues, one reason being the disconnection between protection and creation that stands as a metaphor for the heritage-architecture split running through the Ministry of Culture and Communications (MCC).

Approaches to possible alteration of the built environment include rehabilitation, renovation, demolition and reconstruction. Since the Second World War, and under pressure from one of France's major industries – tourism – these approaches have expanded to embrace the urban scene, then the territory. Heritage enhancement, creation of new public facilities, designing of itineraries, museum exhibition scenography, renewed attention to monuments, cities and nature reserves, and improved handling of visitor flows in response to changes in transport modes – all these things have made the scope of the issue much broader.

Research programmes and expected outcomes. Three programmes are planned:

Recognition and/or protection of 20th century architecture

Since Prosper Mérimée's time as Inspector General of Historical Monuments in the mid-19th century, 'heritage protection' in France has become identified with the concept of heritage concept as such. And according to the second great ancestor in the field, Viollet-le-Duc, the best way to save a building is to find a use for it.

Today's anti-museumisation discourse, then, is as old as the notion of heritage itself; as is the issue of transformation, a process archaeologists have shown to be ever-present down the ages. The 20th century's monument heritage, including housing, is thus not fundamentally different from that of earlier centuries; but the same cannot be said of a mass of buildings described as remarkable but lacking the necessary recognition.

Investigation of the axiology of heritage and the criteria used in the course of selection, classification and ranking (authenticity/falsification, originality/triteness, uniqueness/typicality, etc.) will thus shed light on certain theoretical and methodological points with regard to combining the scientific and the regulatory, and the artistic and the political.

Investigation of the value systems used in the recognition and classification of buildings constitutes the backdrop to research into the way the heritage approach to aspects of 20th-century French architecture is having trouble finding the right tools for recognition and protection. In this context evaluation of the '20th-Century Heritage' certification carried out for the Ministry of Culture and Communications in 2011–2012 was the first stage in an examination of how the regulatory machinery functions. This was followed by assessment of the effects of regulations regarding urban heritage recognition – the Protection and Enhancement Plans (PSMV); the Urban and Landscape Heritage Protection Zones (ZPPAUP), currently becoming Heritage Enhancement Areas (AVAP); and Local Master Plans – in a context of deregulation aimed at reducing the role of the Architectes des Bâtiments de France. The 'notifications' occurring in Local Master Plans are in fact no more protective than the 20th-Century Heritage certifications. Does not this emphasis on mere 'recognition' symbolise, at the highest state level, the primacy of public relations over culture?

An international study of university campuses

Whereas high-rise housing estates have generated an extensive literature, university campuses are little known, little studied and held in low esteem by their local managers. It was thus left to the Ministry of Higher Education and Research, as part of its 'Campus' operation, to call for an inventory and diagnosis of France's university campus heritage in 2010–2011. The results, in fact, have provided the basis for a more systematic consideration of all educational establishments. The second segment of this programme will take the form of an international comparative study also involving campuses in the United States, the UK and China. 

Architectural heritage and energy efficiency: the architecture of the 1950s–1970s

In many instances the stated goal of thermally insulating millions of existing housing units fails to take account of its impact on the heritage value of the buildings concerned. This value often went unheeded in 20th-century architecture and especially that of the 1950s–1970s (Marino, 2009). However, with the heritage value of this sizable body of buildings now finding increasing recognition, real skill is called for in terms of analysing the architecture and thermal behaviour of buildings designed at a time when energy was cheap (Pouget, 2011) and technical-constructional principles were largely dictated by mass production and prefabrication (Graf and Delemontey, 2012).

As a follow-up to studies like the one carried out by the Paris Urbanism Workshop (APUR), research will also be feasible within the framework of the Labex (Excellence Laboratory): combining architectural, technical and scientific analyses, it will focus on the built heritage of the 1950s–1970s in respect not only of housing, but also of the school, university and hospital amenities so plentifully produced at the time and now requiring major adaptation.  

This research will draw on studies of specific buildings or types of building and on comparative approaches in European countries offering a range both of technical and building traditions and of heritage attitudes (Casciato and D’Orgeix, 2012).

Organisation, outreach and attractivity

The theme will be divided up into three research programmes, each involving a minimum of three researchers capable of gaining national and even international recognition for their work.

Creating this kind of theme means opening the Unit up to new researchers, especially architects and builders whose points of view will reflect their professional experience and commitment. It will also mean establishing, within the Cities, Transport and Territories doctoral school at the Université Paris-Est Research and Advanced Education Hub, a PhD in architecture based on historical, constructional and societal analysis as well as on the testing of the architectural and urban projects. It also implies closer relations with think tanks with related concerns: the School for Advanced Studies at Chaillot, with its postgraduate 'Architecture and Heritage' degree (DSA) that was the inspiration for a similar course at Paris-Belleville; and the National School of Landscape in Versailles. Lastly it means the possibility of collaborations and data and experience sharing with laboratories in the fields of history, art history, geography, cultural mediation and tourism engineering.  

Interaction with the social, economic and cultural environment

There is notable interaction between this theme, the Ministry of Culture and official architecture heritage bodies. Its consolidation guarantees the Unit the role as the hub for architectural and urban heritage skills and expertise called for by the Ministry of Culture and Communications, the ultimate overseer of architectural matters.

Involvement in training through research

All the researchers working on this theme are involved in the Masters seminars for the Architecture and Heritage degree at the Paris-Belleville National School of Architecture.

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Research theme 4: Architecture and technical culture

Formed by a group of researchers from the Centre for the History of Technique and the Environment at the National Conservatory of Arts and Crafts (CNAM), this transversal research theme is intended to unify and develop research relating to the interaction between architecture, technique and society.

It aims to bring together researchers and practitioners – architects, engineers, restorers – from schools of architecture using a 'material' approach to the discipline. Its activities are closely tied to those of research teams working in the history of art and the humanities and social sciences, with special emphasis on the study of science and technique.

These investigations function at the junction between the history of art and architecture on the one hand, and sociology and the philosophy of science and technique on the other; the common themes include the dynamics of innovation, representations of technique, the role of action in the development of knowledge, the politics of construction, and the sustainability of technical objects. At a time when 'sustainable' building has become mandatory and the legitimacy of expert knowledge is under constant challenge, technology must more than ever be rethought in the light of current nature-based and social issues.  

The second aim, which is more specific to the Joint Research Unit, is to facilitate research which offers increased scope to the skills of architects and architecture students: to instigate work on past and present materials and construction techniques. Work of this kind is necessary both to regenerate the history of architecture and to train practitioners in the skills needed to protect and restore buildings and technical procedures.

This material approach to architecture also has a part to play in the teaching of architecture and building. The history of construction – a subject increasingly taught in architecture schools over the last ten years – is an instrument for rethinking teaching in this field, in combination with the physico-mathematical approaches which, in terms both of content and modes of teaching, have gradually ousted the aesthetic, concrete and material aspects of construction.

Group projects, 2014–2018:

Research programmes

2014. Ignis Mutat Res Research Programme, 'From Cellar to Roof; History and Prospects for Energy Policies for an Economic Capital, 1720–2050' 

Partners: City of Paris School of Engineering, City of Paris, TH1 Agency

Organisers: Emmanuelle Gallo (director), Vanessa Fernandez, Linnéa Rollenhagen-Tilly, Philippe Villien

Continuation of the redaction and presentation phase of the work (2011–2013), so as to round off the 'prefinal' report handed in on 31 October 2013.

2014-2015. "The temporalities of Technique: object, actors, ways of thinking' (M2, Post Masters, PhD).

Teaching project 2014 for the programme 'Paris: New Worlds'.

Partners: Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne, Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales (CET and CETCOPRA), Ecole Nationale Supérieure d’Architecture de Paris La Villette (AHTTEP), Ecole Nationale Supérieure de Création Industrielle, Conservatoire National des Arts et Métiers.

Organisers: Anne-Françoise Garçon (CET, Paris I), Bernadette Bensaude-Vincent (Paris I, CETCOPRA), André Grelon (EHESS), Olivier Hirt (ENSCI), Valérie Nègre (ENSAPLV) Jean-Claude Ruano-Borbalan (CNAM)

Venue: Conservatoire National des Arts et Métiers.

Brief description: The TempTech teaching project at heSam (hautes études Sorbonne arts et métiers) promotes multidisciplinary approaches to techniques and technology between the humanities and the social sciences, design, architecture and engineering science. Formally innovative – webinars, podcasts – it provides young researchers with training in three areas: skills building; durability of technical objects; design systems… 

2014-2015. 'The Archives of Creativity Teaching'

Research programme at the CAP 'Teaching Creativity' Excellence Laboratory

Partners: Ecole Nationale Supérieure d’Architecture de Paris La Villette (AHTTEP), Université Paris I (HICSA), EHESS (CRAL), AUSser Joint Research Unit Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne (HICSA), Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales (CRAL)

Organisers: Guy Lambert (Ecole nationale supérieure d’architecture Paris Belleville, IPRAUS), Eléonore Marantz (Université Paris I Panthéon-Sorbonne, HiCSA), Valérie Nègre (Ecole nationale supérieure d’architecture Paris La Villette, AHTTEP), Nadia Podzemskaia (Centre de recherche sur les arts et le langage, CNRS-EHESS).

Brief description: The project aims to assemble and construct archives enabling understanding of creative processes via their transmission. The sources of the teaching of creativity are little known, scattered, little used and on the whole still waiting to be formalised; this can only happen once attention is given not only to course content, but also to actual practice: what the teacher says, what he does, what he shows and the objects he works with.

The projects proposed will be carried through in partnership with different institutions – archive centres, museums, libraries, schools – and will bring together historians, practitioners and curators from France and abroad. These partnerships will be set up during the preparatory year 2014.

  • National and international colloquia

2014. International colloquium: 'The Book and Techniques, pre-20th century. On a global scale.'

Partners: Université Paris Diderot (ICT and LARCA), Bibliothèque de l’Ecole des Ponts et Chaussées, Bibliothèque du CNAM, Centre de documentation de la Cité des sciences et de l’Industrie, Bibliothèque BULAC, Bibliothèque IHEC du Collège de France. UMR AUSser.

Organisers: Thérèse Charmasson (CRHST-Universciences), Konstantinos Chatzis (LATTS/ENPC-UMLV-CNRS), Isabelle Gautheron (ENPC), Liliane Hilaire-Pérez (Univ. P7-ICT/EHESS-CAK), Soline Lau-Suchet (BULAC), Catherine Masteau (ENPC), Emmanuelle Minault-Richomme (Cnam-Service commun de la documentation), Valérie Nègre (ENSAPLV-AUSser), Allan Potofsky (Univ. P7-LARCA), Delphine Spicq (Collège de France-Bibliothèque IHEC), Koen Vermeir (SPHERE CNRS/Univ. P7).

Venue: Ecole des Ponts Paris Tech, Cité des Sciences et de l’Industrie, Collège de France, 18–20 June 2014

The history of technical books is a new, little explored field and as such reflects the marginal role of the history of techniques in the history field as a whole. And yet we need only think back to the Descriptions of the Arts and Crafts commissioned at the highest state level under the Ancien Régime, the manuals for civil servants circulating in ancient China, the host of treatises that educated generations of engineers, and the technical handbooks aimed at improving the practices of tradesmen and farmers: here we find an extremely rich literature, universal in its application and circulating busily all over the world.

The aim of this colloquium is both to fill this gap in the history field and to investigate the relationships between the economy of the book and the world of technique; and thus to analyse the technical book as a category, in terms of its forms, functions and modes of dissemination and appropriation prior to the 20th century.

2016. International colloquium: 'Architects and the Public Sector: 19th–21st Centuries'

Partners: research laboratories: Léav/re MAP-ENSA Versailles, GEVR (Énsap Bordeaux- ADES/Université de Bordeaux 3), and AUSser Joint Research Unit.

  • study days

2014. 'Areas of Technical Teaching, 18th–20th centuries: Architecture, History and Heritage'  10 October 2014

Organisers: Guy Lambert, Stéphane Lembré (ESPE Lille Nord de France-CREHS)

Venue: Ecole nationale supérieure d’architecture Paris Belleville

2014. 'Representations of the Building Site, 16th–20th centuries', 3 December 2014 (9:30 am – 1:00 pm)

Partners: Cité de l’architecture et du patrimoine, Ecole nationale supérieure d’architecture Paris La-Villette, AUSser Joint Research Unit.

Organisers: Corinne Belier (Cité de l’architecture et du patrimoine) and Valérie Nègre (ENSA Paris La Villette)

Using images presented by contributors for discussion by historians, practitioners and curators, the study day sets out to explore the social, political, technical and artistic aspects of the building site. Several themes will be looked into, and will be illustrated by 'major' and 'minor' artworks and amateur representations.

Venue: Cité de l’architecture et du patrimoine, salle Anatole de Baudot

  • Workshops

2014. Workshop organised by the Creativity, Arts, Heritage (CAP)  Excellence Laboratory: 'Teaching inventiveness and creativity in the arts and techniques'

Partners: Université Paris I (HICSA), EHESS (CRAL), Bibliothèque Kandinsky (Centre George Pompidou), AUSser Joint Research Unit (two segments of the Unit are taking part in this workshop: 'Architecture and Technical Culture' and 'Architecture: Dissemination, Transmission, Teaching').

Organisers:  Karine Bomel, Guy Lambert, Eléonore Marantz, Valérie Nègre, Nadia Podzemskaia, Stéphanie Rivoire, Estelle Thibault

Venue: Institut National d'Histoire de l'Art–Paris I

This 2014 workshop has the same aim as its recent predecessor: to identify, via methods and teaching media, the processes of inventiveness and creativity in both the arts and techniques. It is planned to call on researchers specialising in techniques, art and architecture, as well as active practitioners: architects, designers, restorers and teachers.

2014. Workshop: 'The fiction of Architecture: Source Studies for the History of Teaching'

The workshop aims at preparing an anthology of texts on the teaching of architecture. 6 sessions are planned for 2014.

Partners: Université Paris I (HICSA), Université de Bordeaux III, AUSser Joint Research Unit (two segments of the Unit are taking part in this workshop: 'Architecture and Technical Culture' and 'Architecture: Dissemination, Transmission, Teaching').

Organisers:  Jean-Philippe Garric, Guy Lambert, Caroline Maniaque, Valérie Nègre, Emilie d’Orgeix, Estelle Thibault, with Camille Bidaud and Laure Jacquin

Venue: AUSser Joint Research Unit, Paris-Belleville National School of Architecture and Université Bordeaux III

2014. Internal Joint Research Unit workshop: 'Rereading the Technical Culture Classics'

Seen as a nodal point for the work of the 'architecture and technical culture' theme, this workshop sets out to introduce and/or collectively discuss books, articles, special issues of journals, both 'classical' and recent, which address technique from the point of view of the social studies of technology and the history of art.

In the past the rediscovery and sometimes the translation of works looking into the relationships between technology and the built environment – those of Reyner Banham, Lewis Mumford and Sigfried Giedion, for example – stimulated research simultaneously involving these fields.

Open to Joint Research Unit researchers and doctoral students, the workshop also welcomes teachers and Masters students. The emphasis is on epistemological and methodological interchange.

Scheduled five or six times a year, the sessions are prepared by one or more researchers on the basis of a text or group of texts that feed into their work. Copies are available to participants before the session.

  • Publications

2014. Publication of the Keynote Lectures from the Fourth International Congress on Construction History in the Journal of Construction History, vol. 28, no. 3, 2013 (January 2014)

The contents bear on the history of construction as seen from different points of view: Dominique Barjot (History of Economics),  Antonio Becchi (History of Science and Construction), Ledlie Klosky (Engineer), Robin Middleton (History of Art), Susan Webster (Social History).

2014. The journal Artefact: Techniques, histoire et sciences humaines, no. 2, 2014: « Art et industrie: les enjeux de la formation, XVIIIe-XXe siècles »

Published and distributed by CNRS Editions

ARTEFACT  is a biannual French-language history journal for the promotion of research into technology and the long-term materiality of practices in human societies. Its aim is to unify the historical, archaeological and anthropological approaches which make technique, in the broad sense, a necessary part of researchers' analyses and a core element of their investigations. The host of different sources behind technical activities justifies the special emphasis on research into our technical heritage: writings, images, objects, sites.

2015. Publication: Architects and the Public Sector: 19th–21st Centuries (in French)

Presses Universitaires de Rennes

2015. Publication: Translating Architecture (in French)

(edited by R. Carvais, V. Nègre, J.S. Cluzel, J. Hernu), Paris, Picard (to be published in spring 2015)

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Research theme 5: Present Day Architecture: Mediations and Concrete Outcomes

Present Day Architecture: Mediations and Concrete Outcomes

In reviewing the four-year programme for 2010–2014, we observed the convergence of issues emerging from a number of the Joint Research Unit's lines of research – 'Architecture of the Habitat', 'Architecture: Dissemination, Transmission, Teaching' – with research themes worked on in other laboratories. This work was based on shared temporal and spatial goals: we have been focusing on architectural and urban ideas, projects and executed works from the 1960s through to the present day, in the 'developed' countries.

The goal now is to set about exploring postmodernity in architecture in a broader political, economic, social and cultural context. What we are proposing, then, for the four-year programme for 2014–2018, is the creation of a line of research titled 'Present Day Architecture: Mediations and Concrete Outcomes.' This defines a shared working terrain revolving around the concept of 'after modernity' in architecture, in both theoretical and practical terms and on the architectural and urban levels. The multiplicity and complexity of definitions of the 'postmodern', at once a concept and a period (the after-1960s), leads us to consider its built forms as much as its ideas, teachings and standpoints. The issues addressed have to do with the relationship with history, the architecture of the city and the modern heritage. Covering the specific characteristics of the history of the present in terms of methods, sources and ways of seeing, they cause us to reconsider the validity of certain prefabricated categories, notably those preceded by a neo, a pre or a post: the Presocratics knew nothing of the coming of Socrates, and when they first appeared the Neoplatonists simply called themselves Platonists; they only became 'neo' later. So what are we to say of the neomoderns? And the post…  

Keywords: actors and institutions; field; critical; sustainable development; discipline; discourse; history of the present; property (market); mediation; built spaces; orality; postmodernisms; profession; sociohistory; style; theory and practice; new towns.

1 – The state of the art; the specificity of our stance; the issue

The subject under consideration (architecture in general and housing in particular), together with the terrain (suburban territories and new towns in which 'the urban' has often been designed as if it were a sample) and the period (from the 1960s up to the present), call up a point of view combining sociohistory, the history of ideas and a critical history of architecture.

To borrow a term used by Marc Bloch in The Historian's Craft, we would like to adopt a genealogical and regressive approach: to understand the past through the present, and conversely. This means finding a balance between an approach to what has happened and, beneath the apparent disorder of the facts, the long-term meaning of practices and usages. Rather than a description of ongoing change or an account of origins and what followed – an ambitious but dangerous history of progress – we wish to establish a history of successive transformations. This is history seen as the analysis of the successive transformations of a building – or of a neighbourhood when a building lays claim, by its size, to the recasting of an entire neighbourhood. In seeking to 'de-fatalise' the past, our work also fits with today's questionings and putting forward of ideas regarding the 'Grand Paris' project.   

We intend to take account of the efficiency of theories and doctrines, even if they lack unity – from the writings of Venturi and Scott-Brown through to Jencks, and including Portoghesi and Krier. But rejecting the reflex break with common sense, we shall not dissociate scholarly knowledge and everyday knowledge; rather we shall seek to understand how they have reciprocally impacted.

Our project, what is more, is part of an emergent field in architectural research: mediations – teaching, publications, exhibitions – as the key to understanding the architectural milieu in its dual dimension as discipline and profession. These activities address speculation about the present through a shared feature: discourse, in its relationship with doctrine and practice – concrete outcomes, understood as both results and a process of transition from the abstract to the concrete (buildings, urban projects).  

This speculation is fuelled by and worked through in the Masters seminars and project workshops organised by several members of the Joint Research Unit (UMR) in the Paris-Belleville, Paris-Malaquais, Paris-La Villette, Paris Val-de-Seine and Marne-la-Vallée schools of architecture. It is also present in many graduation projects and Masters and doctoral theses. Exhibitions, study sessions and colloquia lead to collaborations with other advanced education and research establishments, as well as with public sector bodies including the Pavillon de l'Arsenal, local government departments and the Councils for Architecture, Urbanism and the Environment (CAUE).    

2 – Objects, corpuses and methods

As we have seen, the originality of this line of research lies partly in the period and geographical area it focuses on: the years of 'post-modernity' – a concept still to be clarified, and which we use in a very broad sense – which is to say, after 1960 and in the West. Needless to say, this period and geographical setting are informed by prior chronological perspectives and international contexts. Functionalism's 'message' was exclusively about efficiency, and after the oil crisis of 1973 this was somewhat inadequate: we can readily understand why the 'postmodern' label was used so all-embracingly for a number of years.   

Thus 'discipline' and 'profession' are to be understood through discourses, but also through the buildings and amenities that were constructed. From words to executed projects, this process of concrete outcomes was inherent in everything from urban policy, programming, design and construction through to reception and its implications for the foregoing.

The objects in this line of research can be grouped together according to three main discipline-related points of view:

  • The first emphasises the understanding of theories and doctrines: it is a history of architectural ideas addressed via their mediations, as in teaching.
  • The second has to do with understanding the professional milieu: it is a sociohistory of architecture, notably illustrated by the trajectories of its actors.
  • The third sets out to construct a history of present-day architecture, working from material realisations as they exist in time and space and returning to their underlying discourses.

From the point of view of the history of ideas, the following themes are addressed:

- The genealogy of pedagogical, institutional, professional, critical and doctrinal discourses (from the Athens Charter to the New Urbanism).

- Revision of the corpuses of references and integration of built ensembles hitherto considered 'bad examples' by the architectural community. We are thinking in particular of the sometimes significant gap between the reception of operations forgotten by the critics but overwhelmingly appreciated by their residents – and vice versa.

- Intertextualities, exchanges, and interdisciplinary and international cultural transfers.

From the point of view of the sociohistory of architecture, we single out the three following lines of approach:

- Actors, institutions, settings.

- Mediation, reception and modalities of recognition.

- Societal changes and new kinds of demands and requirements (leisure living, for example).

From the point of view of the analysis and criticism of projects and realisations, we shall examine the following points:

- Programmes specific to postmodernity: new towns, public spaces, leisure facilities, building on the built (obsolescence, notably of that flagship product of the second modernity, the high-rise housing estate).

- Style(s)/'Interarchitecturality', quotations and the influence of semiotics.

- Modes of integration of the successive influences of research themes and programmes coming from the social sciences.

- Taking the environmental question into consideration.

Corpus and methods

The corpus includes discourses drawing more or less directly on reality. As is appropriate, each corpus is matched by one or more methods of approach and specific tools.

The objects analysed are thus of very different kinds:

- Architectural and urban projects and realisations (from document to building: diplomas, students' work, executed works, and including different project phases).

- Academic writings: from print (textbooks, manifestos, treatises, magazines, letters to young architects, etc.) to course notes and theses (published or not).

- Professional writings: grey literature, real estate developers' documents, lists of regulations.

- Transcriptions of interviews.

The material we work on comes both from existing collections and sources to be discovered or put together. Existing collections: already identified public and private archives. New sources: archival and verbal material to be gathered; visits and on-site analyses of urban buildings and spaces considered in terms of their appropriation and transformation; recent cinema and image corpuses, such as representations of new urban styles in films, TV series and advertising.

Certain methods of collection and analysis of these sources are specific to our Joint Research Unit and include on-site spatial analysis, graphic and iconographic analysis, and action research.

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Research theme 6: Dissemination, transmission, teaching


Created in 2010, this research segment has the dual goal of understanding the processes at work in the development of architectural culture and knowledge through the study of the media and the modalities of their transmission, and of studying these media and processes in their own right. The work already begun on the teaching of architecture has to be continued, while addressing on a broader front the questions of mediation, architectural debate and institutional mechanisms.


The development of knowledge about the processes of shaping the architectural discipline, about the paradigms at work in architectural creation as they emerge in the teaching of it, and about the modalities of their transmission, can lead to a critique of teaching methods and to expertise on the part of the research teams which, in the schools of architecture, are directly involved in training for métiers relating to architecture and the city.

The current situation in architecture teaching and, more broadly, the definition of the profession and its modes of functioning, are the outcome of the changes of which the breakup of the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in 1968 was at once a vector and a symptom. Nominally effected in reaction to the institution's slowness in responding to social change, this fracture within a history going back almost two centuries coincided, in the opposite sense, with a state of crisis in the theories and doctrinaire pronouncements of the modern movements and a revival of historical approaches. Born of a challenge to the teaching at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts, this break cleared the way for a purposeful overhaul marked by intense methodological analysis and extensive theorising in a context of new towns, revision of public policy and expansion of urban territories. 

Our intention is to reexamine the impact of this episode now that the generation that took part in these changes is passing the baton. We propose to question the reality of the breaks that have supposedly taken place by setting them in a broad chronological framework covering the whole of the contemporary period, and in a broader disciplinary framework that takes account of the different types of education for the production of buildings and built spaces.

Given the changes in the production of urbanised territories and inhabited spaces in the age of the digital revolution, globalisation, the extension of the concept of heritage and the urgency of environmental concerns, the current crisis in architectural knowledge and practice must be considered in the light of longer-term movements to do with the evolution of the urban imaginary and the paradigms of architectural design. The same is true of the architect's design and representation tools and of his fields of activity, on a scale ranging from the building to the city and the territory. The shift in balance between the roles of the architect and the engineer; the continuing existence of 'workshop' practices of learning and transmitting architectural and urban skills; their prospects for change; and their clashes with university rules and disciplines: these are some of the questions which this historical perspective sets out to clarify.

This segment is intended to include a historical approach aimed at reassessing the supposedly seminal breaks and continuities in current teaching mechanisms and systems, and to undertake a critical analysis of the concepts and methods utilised in contemporary education. The combination of these two approaches will provide the elements of an evaluation of educational practices and a consideration of possible interactions between a history of teaching and a forward-planning approach.

Main research orientation

In the years to come group research will investigate, in addition to teaching, different vectors for the shaping and dissemination of architectural culture: publishing, the press and exhibitions. The educational strategies these different media represent can be reassessed on the one hand in connection with teaching establishments or different professional circles and on the other with comparable or related professional contexts such as design and the arts and crafts. Focusing on the main Paris institutions for the 19th century, these investigations will be intended to extend to the international level, in particular with regard to the international circulation of French educational models and practices until the First World War and the revision of approaches that began across the Atlantic in the 1930s.

Directors: Caroline Maniaque and Estelle Thibault

Group projects, 2014–2018:

  • research programme

 Investigating Project-Based Learning: Architectural Training as a Site of Pedagogical Innovation (France 1789-1968)

The long history of architectural training in nineteenth- and twentieth-century France presents a rich opportunity for the study of pedagogical innovations conditioned by social, cultural and technical changes. Design project-oriented learning modes, active methods of explaining intentions, as well as models and simulations prefiguring concrete objects developed in this context, often long before they were theorized by education specialists. This collaborative research project aims to better locate architecture within the broader sphere of advanced scientific, artistic, technical and technological education. Based on a retrospective investigation of the material reality of pedagogical exchange in different types of institutions, this study will reevaluate the richness of design project-based teaching strategies that relied heavily on representation and experimentation.

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