Pierre Frankhauser

+33 (0)3 81 66 54 21
Pierre Frankhauser

Pierre Frankhauser is professor of geography at the University of Franche-Comté since 1996. He is interested in the analysis of the spatial organisation of urban fabrics and transport networks across scales based on a fractal approach. Various computerised analytical tools have been developed together with ThéMA researchers and engineers. He also works on the establishment of planning concepts for sustainable development on the scale of agglomerations again inspired by fractal geometry. This work attempts to find urban configurations that optimise accessibility to places frequented by residents with the aim of limiting the length of their journeys. In this context, the objective is to design computer tools to make this approach operational through the simulation of development scenarios.

Another area of research is the development of an interdisciplinary understanding of the decision-making processes involved in residential choice through surveys and theoretical reflection on how these processes are modelled.

  • Research supervision accreditation from University of Franche-Comté (1996), title: Echelles, hiérarchies et fait urbain (Scales, hierarchies and urban fact)
  • PhD in geography from University of Paris 1 (1993), title: La fractalité des structures urbaines, (The fractality of urban structures) : D. Pumain, summa cum laude
  • PhD in theoretical physics from the University of Stuttgart (1992), title: Description of the evolution of urban systems using the master equation, Supervisor: W. Weidlich, summa cum laude
  • DEA postgraduate diploma in geography from University of Paris 1 (1989), summa cum laude
  • Master/DEA (Diplom) in theoretical physics (University of Stuttgart, 1986)

Studies of theoretical physics and human sciences at University of Stuttgart

1996 Professor of geography, University of Franche-Comté

1993–1996 Lecturer in geography, University of Franche-Comté

1992–1993 Visiting researcher, University of Besançon

1992 Senior research officer at the systems analysis laboratory, University of Dortmund, computer science teaching

1988–1988 Contractual research fellow at Fraunhofer Institute of production technology and automatisation in Stuttgart

1986–1999 Research officer with interdisciplinary team of the Theoretical Physics Laboratory (University of Stuttgart), theoretical physics teaching

Member of the French University Institute (Institut Universitaire de France) (active member 2009-2014, since 2014 honorary member)

PREDIT 3 ‘Knowledge for Mobility’ award (transport research and innovation programme) with C. Tannier, H. Houot and G. Vuidel 2008

Expert appraisals

Expert with Franche-Comté Economic, Social and Environmental Council (2012), expert appraisal for Jining District Municipal Council (China) (2012), participation in Doubs Infrastructure and Agricultural Board work group on drawing up a local planning charter for economic management of space (2010). Expert in COST10 ‘Outskirts of Cities’ action (2001–2004). Expert with ATN consultancy on modelling public actor strategy in the development of a traffic simulation tool (Mobisim project) (2004). Installation of a hall in the ‘In search of the ideal city’ exhibition at Arc-et-Senans salt works (2000).

Member of the Evaluation Commission of Researchers of the French Ministry of Ecology and Sustainable Development (COMEVAL) (since 2015)

Member of IRSTEA scientific and technical council (since 2012)

Member of University of Franche-Comté scientific council (2005–2012)

President of specialist commission in geography (sections 23/24) (2004 until discontinued in 2008), chair of three selection committees (2010, 2012, 2013, 2016)

Member of steering committee for establishment of Maison des Sciences de l’Homme Claude-Nicolas Ledoux in Besançon (2001–2005), then member of UMS MSHE Claude-Nicolas Ledoux council (2005–2007) and of USR 3124 MSHE Claude-Nicolas Ledoux council (2008–2012)

Establishment and then head of ThéMA’s ‘Mobility, Cities, Transport’ team (since 1999)

Director of ThéMA (1997–1999)

Head of the geography option for the DEA postgraduate diploma ‘New methods and techniques in human and social sciences’ and local head of multi-site DEA diploma ‘Structures and spatial dynamics’ (2000–2004), head of ‘Spatial structures and dynamics’ research specialism of human and social science master/geography and territories option (University of Franche-Comté) (2004–2006)

  • Head of research projects and contracts

Two contracts with private-sector partner (Daimler): residential strategy and modelling

Pir-ville (urban morphology)

PUCA project (urban planning construction and architecture): residential parking

PUCA project: urban morphogenesis

PREDIT project (land transport research and innovation project): use of fractal geometry to develop a sustainable planning strategy (2005–2007)

ECDESUP interdisciplinary ANR project (evaluation, choice and decision making in the use of urban and suburban spaces) (2007–2012)

  • Scientific leader

PREDIT EFFETS project (experimentation of decision support tool: estimating the impact of working from home on journeys and greenhouse gas emissions) (2010–2014)

PREDIT Vilmodes project (modelling and evaluating scenarios for cities and sustainable mobility) (2011–2014)

  • Participation in other contracts

Joint head of contract with Commissariat du Plan, joint head of PREDIT project (Mobisim – daily and residential mobility), participation in ‘Space and extension of cities’ project of ACI ‘Space and territory’, FEDER (ERDF) ODIT (observatory of industrial and territorial dynamics) (2013–2015), participation to the ANR project ‘FractalGrid’coordinated by G2Elab (University of Grenoble) (2016-2019)

  • Monitoring committee

Member of monitoring committee of Luxembourg MOEBIUS (MObilities, Environment, Behaviours, Integrated in Urban Simulation) project (2010–2013)


My research activities relate essentially to a morpho-descriptive approach to the spatial organisation of urban patches using a cross-disciplinary understanding based on fractal geometry. From this perspective, it has proved necessary to adapt measurement methods to the structures in question, and even to develop special-purpose methods. The analyses conducted on many European urban fabrics illustrate the value of this approach. It has been possible to make connections between the results obtained and the urbanisation processes behind the emergence of these urban fabrics.

The investigations have shown the value of the principle of nested scales specific to fractals for establishing a planning concept that integrates social demand while channelling suburbanisation in the direction of sustainable development. Different methods have been developed in conjunction with ThéMA members to put this planning concept into practice.

This work is supplemented by the study of socio-economic processes capable of generating such urban forms, in conjunction with socio-psychologists and economists. It includes both collecting information from households so as to better understand how they decide to move house and reflecting on the formalisation of the decision-making processes.

  • CARUSO G., CAVAILHES J., PEETERS D., THOMAS I., FRANKHAUSER P., VUIDEL G., 2015. "Greener ad larger neighbourhoods make cities more sustainable! A 2D urban economics perspective", Computers, Environnement and Urban Systems vol.54, pp.82-94.
  • FRANKHAUSER, P., 2015 "From Fractal Urban Pattern Analysis to Fractal Urban Planning Concepts." in : HELBICH M. et al. (eds.) : "Computational Approaches for Urban Environments, Geotechnologies and the Environment" 14, Springer International Publishing Switzerland DOI 10.1007/978-3-319-11469-9 pp. 13-48.
  • Thomas I, Frankhauser P, 2013 : "Fractal dimensions of the built-up footprint: buildings versus roads. Fractal evidence from Antwerp (Belgium)", Environment and Planning B: Planning and Design 40(2) 310 – 329.
  • FRANKHAUSER, P., ANSEL, D., (Ed) 2012 : "La décision d’habiter ici ou ailleurs", Anthropos, collection Villes, 383 p.
  • CAVAILHÈS J., FRANKHAUSER P., PEETERS D., THOMAS I., 2010: "Residential equilibrium in a multifractal metropolitan area"; The Annals of Regional Science 45 (3), pg. 681-704.