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The UPR MAP laboratory inherits from a series of successive research structures, the first of which was founded in 1969 by Paul Quintrand at the Marseilles School of Architecture. This first structure, the GAMSAU (Groupe pour l’Application des Méthodes Scientifiques à l’Architecture et à l’Urbanisme), accompanied the emergence of computer science (tools and methods) as a new field of investigation  for researchers focusing on the built environment (databases, expert systems, 3D modeling, etc.).

Following on from this first structure, in 1998 M. Florenzano founded a multi-site UMR (Mixed Research Unit), the MAP (UMR 694 Models and Simulations for Architecture and Landscape), under the auspices of the CNRS (National Centre for Scientific Research) and of the Ministry of Culture, with teams distributed in four schools of architecture (Marseille, Toulouse, Lyon and Nancy). This structure underwent various changes over the following twelve years, but from a scientific point of view its evolution was above all marked by a widening of the scope of the objects of study to include landscape and, even more so, built heritage. In this context, MAP-GAMSAU, the founding team of UMR MAP, remained based at the Marseille School of Architecture, now ENSA.M.

The UMR MAP will undergo a new evolution in 2012, keeping the same supervisory bodies, but with a new director, L. De Luca, and the replacement within the partnership of the Toulouse laboratory ASM (architecture and mountain societies), by a laboratory of the Paris La Villette School of Architecture, the MAAC. In this context, the ‘heritage’ dimension has been further strengthened within the laboratory’s activities, as reflected by a change in the laboratory’s name to Models and Simulations for Architecture and Heritage (UMR 3495). Shortly after the laboratory signed a LABCOM agreement with a major player in the field of heritage sciences, also based in Marseille, the CICRP (Centre Interrégional de Conservation et de Restauration du Patrimoine). This partnership reflects the synergies between the two institutions in terms of experimentation on heritage assets that goes beyond the architectural scale alone.

From the point of view of its scientific activities, the laboratory has de facto specialized in heritage data over the last few years, in two complementary dimensions that can be broadly summarized as follows: development and exploration of new 3D data acquisition and processing protocols, and modeling and management of historical knowledge.

In addition to this scientific evolution, institutional and/or strategic changes in the academic research landscape towards ‘site policies’ led the laboratory to implement a major new transformation in 2024, with a refocusing on a single site, Marseille, and a strong scientific identity. That’s how the the UPR 2002 MAP came into being, under the sole supervision of the CNRS (Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique).

Today, the laboratory brings together researchers and engineers with a wide range of profiles and skills, all of whom share a commitment to ‘digital implementation’. The laboratory’s scientific programme is structured into fields of action corresponding to research activities in the strict sense of the term and to training and transfer activities through which its past and expected partnerships are built.