CRAterre has first obtained its habilitation as a Research Laboratory in 1986.

Since 2010, the CRAterre Laboratory (CRAterre-ENSAG) has establish links with "Constructive Cultures" laboratory to form the AE&CC Research Unit "Architecture, Environment and Constructive Culture" which has been qualified by the HCERES as an “Equipe d’Acceuil” (EA 7444 ) in 2015.
In 2011, AE&CC obtained the status of “Laboratoire d’excellence” (Labex) until December 2019. With a positive intermediate evaluation, AE&CC was invited to propose a dossier for possible renewal for a 5 years period with an integration within the framework of the Grenoble IDEX. That allows for an active participation of AE&CC in the new integrated university of Grenoble: "Univ. Grenoble Alpes, University of Innovation ".

• Presentation of AE&CC research unit
Summary of the research project for 2020-2024 (renewal of the Labex status)

The three axes of the AE & CC research program and the specific objectives of the CRAterre laboratory


The concept of heritage is taken here in its historical and cultural diversities, with references ranging from neolithic to contemporary periods, and in local geographical contexts (Grenoble, the department of Isère, etc.) and around the world (Sub-Saharan Africa, Asia, West Indies, etc.). The heritage is studied in its material facets (materials, building (s), landscapes) and immaterial (knowledge, know-how, organization-management) in relation to the specific characteristics of the places in which it was built. The goal is to recognize and understand the architectural qualities and values of an heritage, and then to identify its potential for development, including the design of any new project.

The two objectives of this Heritage axis :

Inventory, analyze, preserve and valorize the values of earth architectures, ordinary or recognized

  • WHEAP Program (World Heritage Earthen Architecture Program) with the UNESCO World Heritage Center (three sub-components, heritages in conflict zones, urban heritage, heritage and development);
  • Conservation and development of the earthen architectural heritage of the Auvergne Rhône-Alpes region (inventory, conservation, valorization).
  • Conservation and enhancement of earthen architecture archaeological sites (France and properties inscribed on the World Heritage List).

Promoting heritage as a source of knowledge for the architectural / urban planning / development project

  • "Learning from vernacular" as a continuity of the European project VERSUS: experimentation and development of proposed methods
  • Analysis of the degradations in the framework of post-disaster situations for its retro engineering and retro-conception
  • World Heritage, an effective valuation tool? (in connection with UNESCO, ICOMOS France, ICOMOS Int., and MCC °)


Behind the term "materials" the researchers of AE & CC consider the whole chain of their productions and their uses to build the living environment. The research thus starts from the analysis of the potential within a given territory where the raw material can be extracted and the successive stages of the production of materials, structures, buildings, cities, be implemented. The whole process is studied through the prism of territorial development, and especially the role of men and women actors, around one or more constructive cultures, and the potential benefits they derive from it (financial, good living).

The three objectives of this "Materials" axis:

Define a method for identifying and valorizing the resources of a territory in the production of habitat

  • Extraction and production of construction materials in the planning of territories
  • Valorization of local materials and adaptation of their associated know-how in contemporary construction
  • Establishment of production channels: basic conditions and key steps.

Characterize and standardize earth construction techniques and other non-industrial materials

  • Identification of construction techniques with high potential for use and preparation and support of the process to characterize them (in connection with STI laboratories)
  • Exploration and characterization of simplified (field) test procedures for earthen construction
  • Assistance in the development of normative documents, from the Atex level (BTCs, Pisa, etc.) to higher levels of standardization

Explore the potential uses of new urban resources in construction

  • What potential uses for extracted earth (e. g. Grand Paris) ?
  • Reusing materials / building elements: potential and limits


Following the basic logic of our researches, the concept of Habitat covers all scales of the living environment (building, neighborhood, city) so as to identify the interactions between these elements with their natural environment ( topography, vegetation, climate, ...) and how they participate or not in the "good living" in a given territory.

The three objectives of this "Habitat" axis:

Improve knowledge for more efficiency in the reflection on accessibility to housing for the greatest number

  • Very economic habitat (rural areas, peri-urban areas);
  • Retro-engineering of earth architectures;
  • Retro-engineering of local constructive cultures in post-disaster situation and in risk prevention (in connection with CDP Risk @ UGA of IDEX);

Study the practicalities of territorialization, its strategic issues and the strategic issues revealed by these processes

  • Habitability of the territories;

Observe and analyze the potential of new trends in project management

  • Evolution of the evaluation models of the effectiveness of habitat projects: the SHERPA tool;
  • Informal housing, spatial manufacturing process without architect as knowledge and reference for the architect;
  • Participatory models, behavioral change studies and field experiments (Research-action);
  • Reflections on new indicators for rating the quality of living (together).