Architectural, urban and landscape research in France
In a rapidly changing and multi-crisis world (environmental, economic, social, demographic, ethical, etc.) the built environment is proving to be a critical area. It is also generally accepted that by the term Anthropocene we refer to the current stage in the history of our Earth which is deeply altered by human intervention. Metropolisation, megacities, uncontrolled urban sprawl, depletion of natural resources, environmental pollution, migration, wars and reconstruction, health, the energy and ecological transition are among the subjects that are being asked to reshape the problem of the built environment.
On the one hand, this intense human activity opens up new horizons. On the other hand, it warns us of probable dead ends. Humanity must find solutions and modes of action with an urgency that experts and the general public feel and share.
Research and innovation are at the service of this call. This call is addressed to multiple vocations, expertise, professions and practices. Among these is that of the architect. Architecture - art, craft and discipline at the same time - develops methods, processes, ideas and anticipatory forms of tomorrow’s life. The architect develops projects at all levels (building, district, city, territory), based on knowledge and know-how rooted in culture and strongly linked to technology and its evolutions.
Knowledge and know-how in architecture, urban planning and landscaping are not only developed through the practice and experience of architects. They are also, and increasingly, the products of research which, among its many forms, together with education constitutes the higher level of knowledge development and transmission.
Architectural, urban and landscape research is mainly carried out in France laboratories established in the National Institutes of Architecture. The fields of architectural research are vast. They cover the entire spectrum from basic research to applied research: formal analysis, history, sociology, anthropology, economics, modelling, construction, environments, mobility, infrastructures, transport, project analysis, urban history, urban sociology, etc.
In France, the doctoral studies are carried out within the research laboratories of the National Institutes of Architecture. The duration of doctoral studies is officially three years. The doctoral student’s work is supervised by a thesis director who is a member of the laboratory and is authorised to conduct research (HDR). The doctorate is awarded, following a public defense, by the French University.