HomeUse and Users

HomeUse and Users

Use and Users

Usages et usagers

Cahiers de la recherche architecturale, urbaine et paysagère

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Published on Monday, February 27, 2023


This thematic issue of Cahiers de la recherche architecturale, urbaine et paysagère proposes to question the place of uses and users in the processes of design, implementation, development and evaluation of design projects. Although exceptional cases are not excluded, the aim is to understand the construction of architecture and the city through the analysis of ordinary and, if possible, unknown fields of experimentation. With this call for papers, we encourage the consideration of this research subject over the long term, inviting contributions from the various academic fields that analyze architecture, the city and the landscape. From a transdisciplinary perspective, the aim is to cross historical and sociological approaches by drawing on new sources and historicizing the question of use.



Thematic dossier coordinated by Gauthier Bolle and Enrico Chapel


The advent of resident participation as a concept, as well as management assistance to resident participation, in the field of housing and urban development has led to the emergence of new ways of considering practices within the design process.[1] However, the action of recipients and users, as well as the life of a building upon completion, which are widely discussed in sociological and anthropological studies of space, are not fruitful in the narratives of architectural historians or critics, who often concentrate on the characteristics of the initial project or the intentions of the designer. Nevertheless, whether anonymous or clearly identified, the analysis of the role of the user in the development, transformation, appropriation and even consumption of a design sheds light on its origins and implementation from a broad perspective and can lead to a re-reading of established narratives.

A number of seminal works have explored, on the one hand, the complexity of the relationship between use value and exchange value in the production of space and, on the other, the multiform, resistant, cunning and stubborn daily operations of users.[2] Since the 1980s, domestic space has been a fertile ground for investigating these aspects in the field of architectural research.[3] Nevertheless, it has not been easy to grasp, over time, its characteristics with regard to architecture, the city or the landscape. The introduction of the theory of reception in the field of architectural research has broadened the focus of studies concerning the diffusion and appropriation of architectural works.[4] The attention devoted to public perceptions of the living environment, distinct from the academic vision of the designers, has also participated in this trend.[5] Meanwhile, the study of users' participation in architectural and urban design[6] and the integration of social sciences in architecture have shed light on the links between users and space.[7]

Similar to the issue 9-10 “The Architect’s Office (18th‑21st century)”, which examined work conditions that were often overlooked, this thematic issue proposes to question the place of uses and users in the processes of design, implementation, development and evaluation of design projects. Although exceptional cases are not excluded, the aim is to understand the construction of architecture and the city through the analysis of ordinary and, if possible, unknown fields of experimentation. With this call for papers, we encourage the consideration of this research subject over the long term, inviting contributions from the various academic fields that analyze architecture, the city and the landscape. From a transdisciplinary perspective, the aim is to cross historical and sociological approaches by drawing on new sources and historicizing the question of use. Thus, the notion of user and its accompanying vocabulary, which were very much alive in the 1970s, should be questioned, along with an examination of its historical roots and contemporary developments. Authors should focus their proposals on one or more of the three proposed areas of reflection. Contributions may be varied in nature — monographic studies, comparative studies, theoretical reflections — in order to transcend current historical or critical approaches by analyzing the place of uses in the processes of design, theorization, as well as appropriation of architectural and urban spaces.

Uses and Users in the Production of the Built Environment

This theme explores the ways in which those involved in the production of the built environment incorporate uses into the design of architecture, the city and the landscape. A wide spectrum of possible approaches exists, from situations where designers synthesize uses into a drawing, sometimes summarizing them as functions, or when they advocate participation, co-design or even co-production. Between these two positions, the aim is to identify possible intermediate stances. First of all, who is the user? Are they abstract data, an institutional stakeholder, a single individual, or an anonymous person at the design stage? Depending on the case and the different types of programs in question, the user's weight in the project process is inevitably influenced. Thus, how do sponsors and designers relate to the user? How do users themselves structure their involvement? How do they express their wishes when they are clients of the designer? What methods do designers employ to involve the user in the project process? What ad hoc devices are imagined? How do they define the potential uses of the work? How is the quantitative dimension, measuring needs, linked to a more qualitative dimension, taking into account the plurality or even the indeterminacy and evolution of future uses?

Whether we are talking about Advocacy Planning in the United States, the "architecture of participation" in the 1970s,[8] or current approaches to consultation, co-design, or cooperative housing, who is the user in each of these cases? How do new intermediary figures emerge and position themselves today within building professions (mediation, user assistance)? How do new positions that transcend established procedures emerge? Authors are invited to question the methods through which practices of use are captured (inhabited surveys, videos, interviews, consultations, etc.). More broadly, what can be questioned here are the value systems that legitimize each approach. How, for example, do ideals of direct democracy or ecological issues renew methods for involving the user in the design project and in the management of space? How are technical approaches to energy consumption linked to these processes, through the consideration of users' lifestyles or consumption patterns?

Uses and Users in Theory and Critique

In this section, we propose to investigate the place given to uses and/or users within architectural theory and criticism, and even within a broader media field. In 1970, Giancarlo De Carlo underlined the inadequacy of a criticism that disregards inhabited architecture, as if it were a potentially existing space and not a tangible place made of materials and people linked by a relationship that is both permanent and changing.[9]  Nevertheless, numerous controversies related to uses have influenced criticism, theory and history. The contributions in this section might revisit some of these or analyze the place given to uses within scholarly constructions of architecture. This theoretical investigation could be developed by questioning teaching and research, in France and elsewhere, particularly since the turn of the 1960s and 1970s and the emergence of radical pedagogy.[10] How have users' perceptions and practices contributed to renew approaches and how are they used today in the teaching of architecture, city and landscape?

Moreover, how can an evaluation of use be integrated into critical judgment that goes beyond purely aesthetic or functional perceptions? Editorial policies, exhibitions or books that value uses or, more broadly, that rely on the social dimension of architecture could be addressed here. In line with previous issues of the CRAUP that addressed the question of representation, place will be given to the analysis of narrative strategies and figurative forms that are employed within these perspectives of theorization or mediatization (drawing, photography, audiovisual and digital techniques, etc.). Finally, how does architectural theory rely on other fields of knowledge to grasp this question? The link established by the architect Aldo Van Eyck between structuralist trends and anthropology is well known. The evolution of other multidisciplinary perspectives over time would be welcome here.

More broadly, it would be interesting to understand the criticisms arising from the citizen sphere through the lens of controversies that have led to an evolution in representations and strategies of spatial intervention. For example, we think here of the associations of urban struggles, similar to those born in Brussels in the 1970s.[11] In contemporary contexts, how do these attitudes evolve with regard to renewed issues of citizenship, heritage and the environment? How are these mobilizations appropriated, or even instrumentalized through media or political discourse?

Perceptions, practices, and deviations

This last theme questions how users receive space, their points of view and their actions. The methods are numerous: appropriations, critiques, deviations, adaptations, transformations, demolitions, and so on. The aim is to question the future of design projects after completion. What do users have to say about the spaces intended for them, and which they use on a daily basis? What occupation strategies do they develop? How do they transform and reconstruct the project, or the very notion of project?[12]

Here, we expect contributions that are at the intersection of architecture and the humanities, able to give an account of the "inhabitant's voice" and/or the tactics deployed by users to transform their living environment. The objective is to go beyond purely academic receptions by questioning the experiences of those who are not necessarily familiar with the knowledge and techniques of spatial design, but who also produce knowledge and construct organizations on the scale of housing, public space or the city through their life experiences. Here we think of the practices of each inhabitant, but also those of resident-user associations or collectives that have multiplied in recent years, in search of increased participation in the responsible management of the built environment. What knowledge and lessons can be drawn from these experiences?

The different aspects impacting users' spatial perceptions can be questioned: comfort, aesthetics, atmosphere, sense of belonging, sustainability, technical performance (thermal, energy) of buildings, etc. What ensures that a building or an urban space is well received by its users? What are the elements that guarantee its livability? The aim is to conduct a broader analysis of inhabitants’ capacity to participate in the assessment and the interpretation of the works, based on ordinary examples or those highlighted by the professional press.[13] It is also possible to question the various choices of use, which can be found in the modifications that the inhabitants make to their environment.

Today, all living spaces are undergoing profound transformations as a result of the digital revolution and in response to the health and climate crises. The representations and practices of users have inevitably been altered. How do residents integrate these issues and organize themselves to participate in the efficient and sustainable management of the built environment? In this context, do they develop new skills and take on new responsibilities?

Procedure for the Transmission of Draft Articles

Proposals for completes articles should be sent to the Craup’ editorial office: craup.secretariat@gmail.com

by e-mail before 9 June 2023.

For more information, contact Aude Clavel on 06 10 55 11 36 or by email

The journal expects completed articles, not proposals, abstracts or any other form of presentation.

The articles must not exceed 50 000 characters, including spaces.

Languages accepted: French, English.

Articles must be accompanied by:

  • biobibliographical record between 5 to 10 lines (name and first name of the author (s), professional status and / or titles, possible institutional link, research themes, latest publications, e-mail address).
  • abstracts in French and English.
  • 5 key words in French and English.
  • The title of the article must also be translated into French or English depending on the language of the paper.

Instructions to Authors

1 / General rules

Italic: words in foreign languages in relation to the language used, therefore op. cit., Ibid., cf., a priori, a posteriori, etc.

No use of bold (with the exception of titles) nor capitals (with the exception of the beginning of proper names, institutions, capitals for titles in English, etc.).

2 / Body of the text

The text must be entered in the Word software, using Times New Roman, size 12, line spacing 1.5, without any special formatting, except titles, headings, captions and paragraph breaks.

Bibligraphic references mentioned throughout the text should appear “à la française”, i.e. in a note, with the full reference, and not in brackets in the body of the text.

3 / Quotations

Quotations of less than 3 lines will be inserted into the text and placed between quotation marks. Quotes of more than 3 lines will be indented to the left and right, size 10, without quotation marks.

4 / References

The bibliographical references will be grouped according to author’s name alphabetical order at the end of the article in a section titled “Bibliography”, according to the following model:

For a book: First name Last name, Title, City of publishing, Publishing house (Collection), year of publication, page, [online] url, accessed on date, [online] url, accessed on date. For a collective work: First name Last Name and First name Last name of dir./coord./eds./etc., Title, City of publishing, Publishing house, year of publication, page, or First name Last name et al., Title, City of publishing, Publishing house, year of publication, page, [online] url, accessed on date. For a chapter of a collective work: First name, Last name, (dir./coord./eds./etc.), Title, City of publishing, Publishing house, year of publication, page, [online] url, accessed on date. For a journal article: First Name Last Name, “Article Title”, Journal Title, Vol./N °, Date, City of publishing, Publishing house, year of Publication, page, [online] url, accessed on date.

5 / Illustrations, charts and tables

The author must verify that the images / figures of which he is not the author are free of rights. Otherwise, he must apply to the owner of the image / figure before submitting it to the magazine.

The photographs accompanying the text should be scanned in high definition (300 dpi, 15 cm minimum) in Jpg or Tiff formats.

Text files will be distinct from graphic files.

Illustrations, charts and tables must be legendary in a specific way: The title of the illustrations should be placed above the illustration. The legend and credits (source, copyright, etc.) must be placed under the illustration on two separate lines.

Editorial Line

Placed in the fields of architectural, urban and landscape research, the Cahiers de la recherche architecturale initially developed from the 1970s in research labs of the French schools of architecture, before becoming the Cahiers de la recherche architecturale et urbaine in 1999. The journal initiates in 2018 a new formula online, Les Cahiers: Journal for the Study of Architecture, Urbanism and Landscape, targeted towards the research communities concerned by intentional transformations of space, whatever the scales. The journal aims at meeting current interests and issues in these fields, seeking to renew them and to open new directions of research. Three main research issues are more directly questioned. One specifically concerns theoretical aspects, in order to develop exchanges and discussions between theories of design, planning, architecture and landscape. Another issue refers to the materiality of the city, the technical know-how involved in spatial transformation, but also the material dimension of of transfer and mobilization phenomena, often analyzed in other journals from a-spatial angles. Lastly, the third issue questions the project and its design, which holds a special place in the sciences and the practice of space (performative roles of projects, theories of practice). These three poles call for interdisciplinary works, dedicated to trace in-depth explanations of the transformations of the built environment at the Anthropocene Era. The expected scientific production refers to common criteria of peer reviewing processes. It could pay a particular attention to the issues of pictures and visual production in a field where images can serve as discourse.

Les Cahiers: Journal for the Study of Architecture, Urbanism and Landscape online issue two or three time a year a thematic folder dedicated to a specific and problematized theme, and which consists of around ten articles in French and English. A call for papers is broadcasted for each thematic heading. Proposals may be in French or English. The evaluation is peer-rewiewed.

The online magazine has also 2 headings to accommodate miscellaneous articles, and outside thematic folders. Proposals may be in French or English. The texts are evaluated and peer-rewiewed.

Perspectives on Contemporary Research

Academic articles that present current and unpublished research, unpublished articles and essays on subjects related to the emergence of new themes and accounts of scholarly methodologies and practices development, reports of doctoral and post-doctoral theses, book reviews.

Research Materials

The republication of texts, the translation of articles previously unpublished in French, documents such as logbooks, diaries and personal journals that shed light on the activities of researchers in their contemporary contexts, interviews with scholars and practitioners involved in ongoing research.

Editorial Board

Chief Editor: Frédéric Pousin

  • Céline Barrere
  • Manuel Bello Marcano
  • Franck Besançon
  • Gaia Caramellino
  • Enrico Chapel
  • Benjamin Chavardes
  • Audrey Courbebaisse
  • Maxime Decommer
  • Anat Falbel
  • Yankel Fijalkow
  • Ralph Ghoche
  • Xavier Guillot
  • Caroline Maniaque
  • Roberta Morelli
  • Juilette Pommier
  • Frédéric Pousin
  • Paola Savoldi
  • Corinne Tiry-Ono
  • Andrea Urlberger

Editorial Assistant Aaude Clavel


[1] Alain Vulbeau, « La maîtrise d’usage, entre ingénierie participative et travail avec autrui », Recherche sociale, vol. 209, n° 1, 2014, p. 62-75.

[2] Henri Lefebvre, Le Droit à la ville, Anthropos, Paris, 1968 ; Henri Lefebvre, La Production de l’espace, Anthropos, Paris, 1974 ; Michel De Certeau, L’Invention du quotidien, t. 1 « Arts de faire », Gallimard, Paris, 1990 [1981]).

[3] Anne-Marie Châtelet, Monique Eleb, Thierry Mandoul, Penser l’habité, le logement en question ?, Paris, Mardaga, 1988 ; Jean-Michel Léger, Derniers domiciles connus. Enquête sur les nouveaux logements. 1970-1990, Paris,Créaphis, 1990.

[4] Cahiers thématiques, n° 2 « La Réception de l'architecture », Lille, École d’architecture de Lille, 2002.

[5] Les Cahiers de la recherche architecturale et urbaine, n°15-16 « Savant, populaire », Paris, Éditions du patrimoine, 2004.

[6] Peter Blundell Jones, Doina Petrescu, Till Jeremy (dir.), Architecture and Participation, Londres, Routledge, 2005 ; Paul Jenkins, Leslie Forsyth (dir.), Architecture, Participation and Society, Londres, Routledge, 2009 ; Agnès Deboulet, Héloïse Nez (dir.), Savoirs citoyens et démocratie participative dans la question urbaine, Rennes, Presses universitaires de Rennes, 2013 ; Véronique Biau, Michael Fenker, Élise Macaire (dir.), Cahiers Ramau, n° 6 « L’implication des habitants dans la fabrication de la ville. Métiers et pratiques en question », 2013 ; Jeanne Demoulin, La Gestion du logement social. L'impératif participatif, Rennes, Presses universitaires de Rennes, 2016 ; Jodelle Zetlaoui-Léger, « Urbanisme participatif », Dictionnaire critique et interdisciplinaire de la participation, 2022, [en ligne] [https://www.dicopart.fr/urbanisme-participatif-2022].

[7] Daniel Pinson, Usage et architecture, Paris, L’Harmattan, 1993 ; Marion Segaud, Anthropologie de l’espace. Habiter, fonder, distribuer, transformer, Paris, Armand Colin, 2007 ; Guy Tapie, La Culture architecturale des Français, Paris, Presses de Sciences-Po, 2018 ; Véronique Biau, Les Architectes au défi de la ville néolibérale, Marseille, Parenthèses, 2020.

[8] Paul Davidoff, « Advocacy and Pluralism in Planning », Journal of the American Institute of Planners, 31 (4), 1965, p. 331-338 ; Giancarlo De Carlo, L’architettura della participazione, Quodlibet, Macerata, 2013 [1972].

[9] Giancarlo De Carlo, « Il pubblico dell’architettura », Parametro, n° 5, 1970, p. 4-12.

[10] Anne Debarre, Caroline Maniaque, Éléonore Marantz, Jean-Louis Violeau (dir.), Architecture 68. Panorama international des renouveaux pédagogiques, Genève, MétisPresses, 2020 ; Beatriz Colomina, Ignacio G. Galan, Evangelos Kotsioris, Anna-Maria Meister (dir.), Radical Pedagogies, MIT Press/Cambridge Mass, 2022.

[11] Gaël Comhaire, « Activisme urbain et politiques architecturales à Bruxelles : le tournant générationnel », L’Information géographique, 2012, vol. 76, no 3, p. 9-23.

[12] Isabelle Doucet, « Intermède. Les artefacts architecturaux : faites entrer les acteurs ! », CLARA, 2015/1, n° 3, p. 143-144.

[13] See for example Philippe Boudon, Pessac de Le Corbusier, Paris, Dunod (Aspects de l’urbanisme), 1969. See also Marion Segaud, Esquisse d’une sociologie du goût en architecture, thèse de doctorat, université de Paris-X Nanterre, 1988.



  • Friday, June 09, 2023


  • architecture, usage, usager


  • Aude Clavel
    courriel : audeclavel [at] hotmail [dot] fr

Information source

  • Aude Clavel
    courriel : audeclavel [at] hotmail [dot] fr


CC0-1.0 This announcement is licensed under the terms of Creative Commons CC0 1.0 Universal.

To cite this announcement

« Use and Users », Call for papers, Calenda, Published on Monday, February 27, 2023, https://calenda.org/1053821

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