Seydou Ba is defending his PhD thesis : The issue of viability and socio-economic development in institutional territories facing administrative divisions in Senegal


The defense will take place in Besançon at the Salon Preclin, UFR SLHS on decembre 16th at 10am.

This work was directed by Alexandre Moine, Professor at the University of Franche-Comté, laboratory ThéMA.


Defense jury

Frédéric Giraut, Professor at the University of Geneva, Switzerland

Jean-Christophe Gay, Professor at the University of Sophia-Antipolis, Nice, France

Stéphanie Lima, Lecturer at the INU Champollion, Albi, France

Abdourahmane Sene, Lecturer at the University of Assane Seck de Ziguinchor and Director of spatial planning of the Ministery of « Gouvernance territoriale, du Développement et de l’Aménagement du Territoire », Senegal

Christian Guinchard, Lecturer – HDR at the University of Franche-Comté, France


The purpose of this thesis is to analyze the process of construction and delimitation of communal territories in Senegal. Indeed, in Senegal, the communes constitute the basic territorial collectivities. They have legal personality and financial autonomy. They are created by decree, which must be concretely translated into a territorial division.

During the first years of 2000, the steady pace of administrative divisions led to a rapid change in the territorial organization and in parallel to the number of territorialized actors. This dynamic of recomposition then provoked a lively debate on the underpinnings of the divisions and the relevance of the territorial entities. This situation is all the more worrying as a number of conflicts between local and regional authorities have become widespread.

However, the creation of new territories in Senegal is very rarely accompanied by a materialization of their spatial limits. This phenomenon creates a great deal of uncertainty around the boundary and causes various conflicts that hinder the management and development of communities whose physical territory remains more or less poorly known.

It is in this context that we are interested in the process of administrative divisions to understand how territorial boundaries are defined and set up? What roles do they play in the management, ownership, cohesion and development of the territories they contribute to create and of which they constitute a determining component? What is the real existence of these territories? What do they represent for the actors? It is to these concerns that this thesis has tried to answer, through the example of 5 communes in the Saint-Louis region.

This research was conducted on the basis of a systemic approach, the conduct of semi-structured interviews and the use of mind maps. The goal is to analyze and understand the complex process of building boundaries and territories.

For data processing and analysis, we used a method of empirical analysis of content in order to understand the different spatial reference scales of the actors; the process of creating municipalities; the actors involved and their roles; finally, their level of appropriation of the communal territories.




Last Updated: Wednesday, 27 November 2019 10:46

An interdisciplinary research work between urban planning and language sciences now published in the journal Urban Studies


Thomas Buhler, laboratory ThéMA and Virgnie Lethier, ELLIADD (University of Franche-Comté) present a new method which opens up research perspectives for the coming years.

For several decades now, French cities - like many others around the world - regularly publish urban planning documents in which their strategies are expressed for the next 5, 10 or even 15 years. These documents concern particular themes (transport, land use regulations, housing, etc.). Begun two years ago, an interdisciplinary project between research centres ThéMA and ELLIADD focuses on the analysis of the these 'planning discourses', based on textometry, a reproducible method of textual data analysis. This systematic method aims to overcome certain methodological and technical obstacles present in the field of urban policy discourse analysis, which is often based on interpretative methods that are weakly reproducible or documented.


Buhler, T., & Lethier, V. (2019). Analysing urban policy discourses using textometry: An application to French urban transport plans (2000–2015). Urban Studies.


Figure Urban studies Buhler











Last Updated: Wednesday, 30 October 2019 08:32

Maxime Colomb is defending his PhD thesis entitled "Multi-scale simulation of realistic forms of residential development from the parcel to the metropolitan area". 


The defense will take place at the Université Paris Est, in the IGN (Institut Géographique National), 73 avenue de Paris, Saint Mandé on September 27th, 2019.


This work was directed by Julien Perret, Senior researcher, IGN (French national Geographic Institute) and Cécile Tannier, Senior researcher at CNRS (French National Centre for Scientific Research), Laboratoire ThéMA and co-directed by Mickaël Brasebin, Research Officer, IGN.

Defense jury

Cyrille Genre-Grandpierre, Professor at the University of Avignon, France

Jacques Teller, Professor at the University of Liège, Belgium

Hélène Houot, Lecturer at the University of Franche-Comté, France

Florent Le Néchet, Lecture at the University Paris-Est, France



The process of urban sprawl of urban agglomerations is very often criticised for numerous reasons. The dynamics of residential developments, at the origin of urban sprawl, are very complex and result from the interaction of several phenomena. Many laws and regulations are supposed to control the construction of buildings in order to limit the negative impacts of urbanisation. It is nevertheless difficult to anticipate the effects of such a regulatory corpus. Its multi-scale nature, related to the different levels of regulation, the different regulated subjects and the different parties executing those regulations complicate the forecasting of their effects and the spatial configurations they contribute to create.

Here, we propose a simulation model for the residential development of an urban agglomeration. It produces realistic configurations respecting the orientations, goals and constraints stemming from urban planning documents. To that end, we elaborate a coupling of two existing spatial simulation models. This coupling, named ArtiScales, follows a top-down approach in simulating the shape of the residential development of an entire study area by selecting the constructible parcels and by simulating the construction potential of each plot. ArtiScales integrates the MUP-City model, that allows us to select interesting locations with respect to the built configuration of the study area and to several points of interest (transportation networks, shopping facilities, services, etc.). We develop a parcel management model in order to select the existing parcels interesting for residential development and to recompose them when needed according to the chosen scenarios and to specific situations (densification, special operations). Finally, we use the SimPLU3D model to simulate the constructibility of each parcel. This model generates spatial configurations, in three dimensions, respecting the regulatory constraints originating from the local urban planning scheme (Plan Local de l’Urbanisme - PLU). We concentrate the analysis of the coupling results on the estimation of created housing units and its agreement with the goals defined by the local housing program (Programme Local de l’Habitat - PLH) and on the housing density by hectare and its agreement with the goals defined by the territorial coherence scheme (Schéma de Cohérence Territoriale - SCoT).

Spatial simulation models are subject to an important variability that questions the reliability of simulation results. MUP-City being particularly subject to such variability, we conduct a complete analysis of its simulation results in order to caracterise the parameters responsible for this variability and how it translates to the produced spatial configurations. We distinguish two types of variations : the ones caused by scenaristic parameters, allowing to simulate different residential development forms, and those caused by technical parameters (internal to the model), allowing to propose variants of the scenarios. The variability between the variants is compared with the variability found in the study of MUP-City results in order to see if the model coupling absorbs or amplifies it.

The ArtiScales model ( is available as free and open source software and can be used in many applications. A set of simulations representing different scenarios has been explored on the Grand Besançon territory (East of France). Simulations carried out represent a potential for residential development conforming to all the regulations at work. We also propose simulations that modify the zoning authorising the construction or not.


Last Updated: Wednesday, 27 November 2019 08:42
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