Our team’s scientific project aims to observe and analyse the dynamics and transitions at work in cities and territories. The idea of a dynamic implies action, trajectory and historicity, whereas a transition introduces the possibility of a rupture, the switch from one state – or even from one socio-economic and cultural, but also territorial model – to another. These processes apply to the notion of a city as an object of analysis, which in turn links up with a process of fabricating space and with the urban phenomenon, and to the notion of a territory, which focuses on ‘territorialization’ processes.
This scientific project is based on a legacy and on international recognition of the Grenoble school of urban and territorial thought, on recent theoretical inputs specific to this group of researchers, on objects capable of feeding horizontal empirical and methodological thinking, and finally on a place, Grenoble’s Cité des Territoires.
Our key research objects (energy, mobility, heritage, creativity, food, planning, urban renewal, land use, etc.) and the diversity of the fields we observe (metropolitan areas, but also rural, peri-urban and mountain spaces) contribute additional substance to this common ambition, which seeks to theorize urban and territorial dynamics and transitions, develop empirical and analytical studies, but also methods the better to understand ongoing changes.
Among recent theoretical input produced by researchers in our team we may cite work on the territoriality and territorialization of action; territorial resources; territorial ecology; (mixed-use) residential and productive economy; habitability (practice, custom, ways of life, ways of inhabiting).
To understand these mechanisms, observe, measure and objectivate them, we have developed the necessary specific methods and tools:
Quantitative analysis to measure flows;
Qualitative analysis, allowing for the materialities characteristic of lived in spaces;
The members of our research team also make a point of staying in touch with territorial action:
Through work on urban and territorial engineering and its planning, observation and diagnostic tools, all of which illustrate the move from knowledge to action;
Also through investigation centring on new experiences (living labs, co-working spaces, third places) which are currently emerging as new tools for rethinking the fabric of cities and space.
The annual programme of events staged by the Cities and Territories team hinges on a thematic cycle on transition studies, a young researchers one-day event jointly organized every year in the autumn with another laboratory and various other scientific gatherings.
Discussing Transition cycle: issues relating to transition, in particular ecological transition, may form the basis of many types of civic, political or institutional commitment, but what about the urban and territorial dynamics these issues underpin and which justify, here and there, many local public actions? Is this a fleeting concept or a genuine paradigm capable of rekindling learning on cities and territories? Advocated by our team, the Discussing Transition cycle of research aims specifically to sketch the outlines of a new research agenda for Pacte in the fields of geography, town planning and territorial economics. The cycle has three objectives:
To create a common understanding around transitions, encourage appropriation of and a critical approach to this concept through monthly seminars;
Identify and promote networking between European researchers working on transition studies, by holding regular study sessions during which we host researchers from many countries;
Open up and share this debate with citizens and local actors by holding public meetings at various urban locations.