Defense jury

Jean-Philippe Antoni, Professor at the University of Bourgogne

Dominique Badariotti, Professor at the University Strasbourg

Christian Grataloup, Professor at the University Paris VII Diderot

Nicolas Meynen, Assistant Professor at the University of Toulouse Jean-Jaurès

Serge Ormaux, Professor at the University of Franche-Comté


A large number of French cities host military historical edifices (citadels, barracks, bastions, defensive walls, etc.). Although these initial defensive functions have been lost over times, these edifices remain deeply rooted in the urban fabric of their host cities. They continue exerting an impact on these cities' urban morphology and modern-time functions as well as the way in which the concept of city is understood. Cities nowadays face some new challenges, the increasing awareness of urban sprawl and its consequences, coupled with an urge to promote e renewed and sustainable urbanism, invites us to adopt new approaches to study urban fortifications. In addition to their symbolic aspect, fortifications are characterized by their out-of-the-common spatial measure (location, volume and geometry), requiring researchers to use methodologies and geographical concepts for their academic endeavour.

Against this background : how can urban fortifications be used to create urban space that is spatially, socially and symbolically coherent with their historical heritage and that also satisfies the functional need of modern cities?

The first part of this doctoral dissertation presents modern-day challenges that fortified cities face (modernisation, urban expansion and sprawl, etc.), and the way in which their "heavy buildings" are affected.
The second part sheds light on the relationships between cities and their fortifications, thanks to descriptive, empirical and statistical analyses. The statistical study noticeably builds on a database to examine the rationale and rules underpinning the rehabilitation of ancient military edifices.
The last part of the dissertation proposes an evaluation of the potential of rehabilitating ancient military edifices and spaces for modern urban usage. For this purpose the impact of transforming the fortifications into residential blocks is assessed in a fortified French city (Besançon). This assessment aims at evaluating the consequences of such urban planning measures on urban morphology and functions.

Overall, the analysis provided in that doctoral dissertation demonstrates that ancient military buildings have their place in contemporary urban planning. They help to achieve a renewed and sustainable urban design in line with the urban morphology, modern, social and functional requirements and the development perspective in their host cities.