Models and Simulations for Architecture and Heritage

MAP laboratory’s profile was formed around the development and the implementation of ICT methods and tools at the disciplinary intersection between information sciences and engineering sciences, as applied to human sciences and in particular to architecture and heritage studies. Gathering architects, engineers, historians, computer scientists and conservation scientists, this Joint Research Unit is under the authority of the National Centre for Scientific Research (UMR 3495) and the French Ministry of Culture. The laboratory gathers teams from CNRS and from national higher schools of architecture of Lyon, Nancy, Marseille and Paris La Villette. Since 2015, the laboratory is associated with the Interdisciplinary Centre for Heritage Conservation and Restoration (CICRP) through a joint laboratory agreement (LabCom MAP-CICRP).

The laboratory’s research programme unfolds in two major fields of concern: design and production processes in architecture, and heritage sciences.

The Joint Research Unit brings together five research teams in France :


Research Group for the Application of Scientific Methods to Architecture and Urban Planning

CNRS (Campus Joseph Aiguier – Marseille) / Marseille School of Architecture

The MAP-GAMSAU team, founded in 1970, is located in Marseilles, and has a partnership with the city’s School of Architecture. Its staff consists of researchers, teachers cum researchers and engineers with complementary competences, scientific profiles and practices, helping to build a multidisciplinary approach to the analysis of heritage items. The team focuses on two families of research issues (i) 3D surveying, geometrical modelling, and semantic characterisation of heritage artefacts (ii) structuring, analysis and visualisation of information and knowledge sets in relation to historical facts.

MAP-GAMSAU’s involvement in 3D data acquisition and processing activities covers application contexts ranging from conservation of monuments to VR/AR side-products, and builds on the idea that the 3D representation of buildings can be used as a mean to spatialize heterogeneous information sets (from technical diagnosis to historical documents). The team has also developed over the years a number of knowledge-enhancing visual exploration platforms in and around spatio-historical datasets, aimed at supporting the analyst’s reasoning tasks (data correlation and comparative analysis, visualisation of time-oriented data, diachronic modelling, dynamic 2D/3D interfacing, tangible models, etc.).


Research Centre of Architecture and Engineering

Nancy School of Architecture

MAP-Crai, founded in 1987 and approved in 1989 as a laboratory by the Bureau of Architectural Research of the Ministry of Culture and Communication, is one of the two laboratories of the Nancy School of Architecture. Since 1997, he joined the MAP Joint Research Unit (Models and Simulation for Architecture and Heritage). MAP-Crai conducts research in the fields of models, methods and digital tools dedicated to architectural design and the study of heritage buildings. The common feature of this research is that it is based on concrete business-oriented experimentations and applications in the field of construction and architecture. This research mainly lead to the development of softwares and digital simulation and design assistance tools. The laboratory welcomes doctoral students in “architectural sciences” from the IAEM Doctoral School of the University of Lorraine and interns from research and professional Master degrees.


Applications and Research in Computer Science for Architecture

Lyon School of Architecture

MAP-Aria is hosted by the Lyon School of Architecture. Since 1988, the team has focused its research and development on the specific methods and tools of computer-aided design, from design decision support for early stages to digital manufacturing techniques, including generative processes for finding optimal solutions. Since its integration into the MAP, MAP-Aria has also developed its skills in the digital heritage field, from the acquisition of spatial data, managing the “aerial vectors” platform – to its processing and its availability to various audiences. Finally, the team’s anchoring within its institution has oriented a significant part of its work towards supporting design processes and projectual strategies, in particular in pedagogical situations. Here, it is the creative hybridization between digital models and analog design supports – from the study model to the printed prototype – that is questioned.


Modelling for assisting the cognitive design activity in architecture

Paris La Villette School of Architecture

MAP-Maacc is one of the laboratories of École Nationale Supérieure d’Architecture de Paris La Villette. It derives from Ariam-Larea laboratory, which was created in 2005 and was part of the merging of the Laboratory of Architecturology and Epistemological Researches in Architecture (Larea), created by Philippe Boudon in 1975, and the Laboratory of Research in Computer Aided and Modelling (Ariam), created by François Guéna and Louis-Paul Untersteller in 1998. In January 2012, Ariam-Larea changed its acronym to MAP-Maacc (Modélisations pour l’Assistance à l’Activité Cognitive de la Conception). The research objectives of MAP-Maacc focus on design assistance in the creation and/or preservation of architecture, according to three complementary approaches: the cognitive sciences of design, computer sciences and engineering sciences.


Interdisciplinary Centre for Heritage Conservation and Restoration – Marseille

MAP-CICRP is an entity created by the establishment of a Joint Laboratory Agreement (LABCOM) signed in 2015 in the frame of CNRS/MC framework agreement, with the scientific centre of the Interdisciplinary Centre for Heritage Conservation and Restoration (CICRP, a cultural Public Interest Group created in 2002). The CICRP supports operations and conducts research in the field of material heritage conservation. These areas of expertise mainly concern painting, stone, contemporary materials and biological contamination. It relies on a multidisciplinary team (curators, scientists, photographers, entomologists…) who regularly participates in conferences, seminars, training courses… These actions have led it since 2009 to have regular collaborations with MAP-Gamsau which led to the creation of the LABCOM MAP-CICRP.