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: Monday, 06 April 2020 09:57

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

Badra Merrad Benyamina is defending his PhD thesis "Space Movements and Mutations in Algiers" in Dijon


The defense will take place at the MSH of Dijon on July 1st at 14h30.

This work was directed by André Larceneux, Emeritus Professor at the University of Borgogne and co-directed by Tahar Baouni, Professor at the Ecole Polytechnique d’Architecture et d’Urbanisme (EPAU-Alger), laboratoire VUDD


Defense jury

Corinne Blanquart, Director of Research at IFSTTAR,Planning, Mobilities and Environment Department

Marie-Hélene Massot, Professor at the University Paris-EST Créteil, LAB’Urba

Thomas Thevenin, Professor at the University of Bourgogne, Laboratoire ThéMA



Algiers port and city’s exceptional history is driven by its remarkable site nestled on a rocky spur. Yet this morphology constrained the urban growth of a city that could pretend joigning the ranks of large metropolis .During its history port and city relationship took multiple forms, frequently compatible yet sometimes divergent and even opposed, leading to inversing domination status of both actors. Algiers capital of a 40 million inhabitants state, has always been a laboratory of urban politics since the colonial era to the institutional constructions of independent Algeria, regardless of deficient statistical tools.  However, the space in Algiers is confronted to great challenges due to an anarchic growth of its population, fragmented urban spaces and unbearable motion constraints.  If road and collective transportation infrastructures are growingly programed and achieved by successive plans, their articulation with built-up areas and housing developments with the aim of eradicating slums does not seem to be really coherent.  Furthermore, the location of communal amenities which seem to be relating to real estate opportunities, adds to the complexity of the urban fabric.  However, under this apparent complexity, arise deep urban logics that should be highlighted and modeled.


Last Updated: Wednesday, 26 June 2019 09:48
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