Research orientations

Sustainable urban development | Mobilities and sustainability | City systems and networks | Regional analyses | Strategic urbanism

Sustainable urban development

In a context where sustainable development is essential as a major reference frame of collective action, its variation under the angle of urban research raises a set of challenges associated with the evolution of forms and structures of the contemporary cities, with the methods of realization of the urban diagnosis, with logics of actors and the implementation of public policies in particular in the field of urbanism and regional land planning.

An important part of the research devoted to the sustainable cities focused itself on the study of the ecoquartiers or the analysis of “good practices” without neglecting the interrogation on the “ordinary city” planning for understanding how the social, ecological and economic challenges of urban sustainability transform the representations and the concrete practices of the actors and their logics of action.

Several research topics are declined: study of the methods of transformation of urbanization mode and analyses of the metropolization process and urban sprawl; analysis of the inhabitant’s residential aspirations and practices of mobility; anti-urbanism and pro-urbanism; urban regeneration, process of patrimonialization and gentrification; urban exclusions and social vulnerabilities (residential segregations, urban poverty, homeless, handicap, drug-addiction, etc). In the context of the debate on the “reappropriation of the uses of the city”, the concept of public space, a fortiori its quality, is of major importance.

The entire of our research places the urban policies in the center of the analysis. It permanently questions the links between sustainable urban development, project of town planning and practices of participation and project governance. The sustainable urban development permanently causes new research orientations emerging in our institute: role of the NTIC, commercial urbanism and renewal of the landscape town centers, landscape transformation of intermediate spaces, walkability and health, green urbanism and agri-urbanism.


Urban agriculture / public spaces and urban quality / social link and fragile uses of the city / new urban ecology / urban policy / city-nature ratios / urbanization modes, metropolization and sustainable urban sprawl / sustainable urbanism and urban project / antiurbanism / urban political ecology / urban governance


Mobilities and sustainability

Central to issues such as sustainability and urban planning, spatial mobility plays a significant role in a country’s economic system and in the daily lives of its citizens.

A first area of research focuses on residential mobility and migration, which have a significant effect on the structure and dynamics of a region. Our research looks in particular at households’ choices of location as well as their residential aspirations and the factors that limit them. Research projects address, for example, the renewed attractiveness of cities (gentrification, reurbanization), cross-border residential mobility and the migration trajectories of young graduates.

A second area of research looks at daily mobility from two points of view: (1) mobility as capital which is unequally distributed among individuals, and (2) the transition towards a sustainable mobility. Of particular interest are bicycle and car use, studied through the lenses firstly of the mobility practices, and secondly of urban planning and regional policies. In so doing, this research considers the ways in which the planning and production of urban space influence mobilities.


Residential choice / interregional migration / daily mobility / mobility practices / mobility transition / sustainable mobility / bicycle / auto-mobility


City systems and networks

Researches undertaken on cities and networks in globalization are led by Citadyne group (Cities and Dynamics of Networks).
The analysis of the urban systems recovers the interactions between inter and intra-urban levels on the regional scale, European and world, by articulating the scales and the levels of apprehension of the cities and their socio-economic networks. Thus, crossing spatial analysis, the complex networks and the “visual analytics”, in particular by the empirical analysis of the socio-economic networks develops a multilevel approach. 

Diachronic studies and simulations using Multi-Agents Systems make possible to approach the urban dynamics through the interaction between network dynamics and the urban resources, driving to phenomena of emergence and attractors, specific to complex systems. In particular, the urban dynamics are approached as complex networks with physicists, by taking in consideration the dynamic network processes (stream effects, preferential attachments, small-worlds…).

The interaction between city and social dynamics (in particular economy and management) is seen trough a multidimensional way by taking in consideration the actor’s strategies according to the “total chain of value”: dimensions are those of the governance of the companies, the economic sectors, the territories and the institutions. Simultaneously with the developed theoretical and empirical approaches, investigations make it possible to specify some general assumptions on the conditions of setting in networks and local and global insertions (in partnership with specialists in regional science and innovating circles). Such multidimensional approaches can be adapted and applied to other fields than economy, like of the social groups, the diasporas or the virtual communities. Links with communication sciences, sociology, art and graphics try to find new fields and new representations of these processes of change of the society.


Analysis of urban systems / urban dynamics systems / city and economy


Regional analyses

The regional analysis led to the IGD considers the interrelationships between urban spaces and their hinterland in a comparative and prospective perspective, but also integrates evaluation of regional policies (territorial development, economic promotion, etc.).

Among the studied challenges, three are distinguished in the practices of the IGD: analysis of the regional economic disparities; identification of the regional contemporary methods of physical capital accumulation; study of the way in which the social groups articulate objective space – that of control, the power and the institutions – and subjective space – that of the sequences of lived space-time and the representations – and consequences of this territorialisation.

It indeed belongs to the regional analysis to measure the socio-spatial inequalities and to determine the probable evolutions of these inequalities, that – given that there does not exist unity in the methods of the accumulation of the physical capital – to mention various modes of accumulation, but also to come to a conclusion about their respective capacity to generate a sustainable regional growth, and, from the institutionalist point of view, to pay a special attention to the territorial impacts of the administrative units, to the shared feeling of membership to a space or of the regroupings in order to find a solution to a problem.

In this respect, the approaches of urban and regional marketing – intended to control the market rather than to undergo it, in order to anchor, in a moving world, people and the companies least likely to be captive of a given metropolitan space – are the object of an increasing interest. The rhetoric power of marketing, i.e. its capacity to produce account, is in particular considered from the point of view of its collateral effects on the daily organization of urban experiment, and singularly from the point of view of the cities fragile users.


Territorial analysis and prospective / regional economic promotion and urban marketing


Strategic urbanism

The researches undertaken in strategic urbanism treat the urban issue, being focused on the management and the implementation of urban projects. Indeed, it has been observed that many projects remain at the state of project and that there exists often a shift between the displayed intentions and the territorial results; the works in progress are interested in the urban production process, conceptualized like the whole of the events leading of the design of a urban project to its realization, even with its post-operational management. They leave from the point of view that the urban production cannot be understood while being focused only on the “forces of the market”, or by analyzing it as the result of the application of a politico-administrative program.

They are thus the interactions between the decisions and actions of the private and public actors within a territorial, institutional, economic and social context in evolution, which constitute the heart of the analysis. Those can take the form of partnerships, negotiations or power struggles.

On the basis of these observations, researches are studying the questions of financial feasibility of urban production operations and examine the influence of various types of scenarios. They question the tools, administrative and legal procedures accompanying the realization of an urban project. Finally, they are interested in the governance and the management of complex projects.