Terra 2022


Earthen architectural heritage: CRAterre’s vision and practices



Virtual Event Description

CRAterre origins lie in the 1970s, when a group of students from the Grenoble School of Architecture discovered the impressive pisé heritage located between the cities of Grenoble and Lyon, most of which dates back to the 19th century. This was proof that it was possible to build simply by using what lies under your feet, an excellent potential response to the rising challenge of the time: the oil crisis.

Learning from the state of conservation of this heritage, CRAterre started to develop specific knowledge for proper design and construction of contemporary earthen architecture, with the ultimate goal of proposing ways to improve people’s living conditions with the least possible impact on our planet. However, all this knowledge has also served as an interesting basis for developing knowledge more specifically useful for the proper conservation of heritage worldwide, first with ICCROM, then with GCI and also with UNESCO’s WHC through a series of programs, the most recent being WHEAP which now attempts to cover the conservation of 203 World Heritage Properties. This led to the development of methodological approaches that have been taught and disseminated while very specific knowledge and know-how were developed by CRAterre within these successive frameworks on preventive and frugal conservation practices and also towards the better recognition of traditional conservation practices.

Overall, the specific interest of CRAterre in earthen heritage, however, has always remained what it can bring to society, in terms of people’s pride, confidence and development (knowledge, know-how, living conditions) and in terms of addressing the great challenges of today’s world: poverty alleviation, sustainable development, climate change. This is why CRAterre’s vision is very specific when dealing with heritage places, with a constant quest for maximizing the role that heritage can play for local communities and for society as a whole, either by itself or by using the lessons learned from it for potential reinterpretation as responses to the evolving needs and expectations of people in their own local contexts.

After a brief historical review of the evolution of CRAterre’s thoughts on heritage, this event covered a series of case studies illustrating the variety of CRAterre’s current activities that reuse some of the most important facets of the knowledge that can be extracted from this amazingly rich earthen architectural world heritage.

Contact Information
CRATerre website: www.craterre.org
Facebook: @Labex.aecc.ensag
Twitter: @LabexAECC
Instagram: @ur.aecc


The Terra 2022 year-long virtual lead-up event series, running from June 2021 to June 2022, presents the richness and diversity of earthen architectural heritage around the world, the individuals and organizations working in the sector, and the communities who care for this heritage and its traditions.

Click here for more information on the Terra 2022 Virtual Lead-Up Events Series.

Click here for more information on Terra 2022 World Congress on Earthen Architectural Heritage.



Virtual Event Participants

Thierry Joffroy is an architect specialized in earthen architecture. Since 1986 he has participated in the teachings of the DSA Terre at ENSA Grenoble before taking the responsibility for its pedagogical coordination and since 2009, its scientific direction. In parallel, he has participated in many action -research works around the world bringing his expertise for the elaboration and implementation of various projects and programs on the themes of architecture, heritage and sustainable development, including the elaboration and implementation of the AFRICA 2009 Program. In 2010, the Academy of Architecture awarded him the silver medal "restoration" in recognition of his extensive work on heritage conservation. Thierry Joffroy is nowadays the director of CRAterre team, AE&CC research Unit at ENSAG, University of Grenoble, France. In that framework he is directing PhD students for the preparation of thesis in architecture that keep on exploring the possibilities of linking heritage to development and poverty alleviation.

Bakonirina Rakotomamonjy is an architect specialized in earthen architecture. She is chairperson of the International Center for Earthen Architecture (CRAterre). She is a researcher in the "Heritage and Development" department at the research unit Architecture, Environment and Constructive Cultures (AE & CC) at the National School of Architecture, Grenoble, France (ENSAG). Her subject of research and study are / Participatory management and cross-cutting approaches; 2 / African cultural heritage and local development; 3 / Earthen architecture and 4 / Higher education and training of professionals. Since 2002, she has carried out more than 80 missions of coordination, technical support and evaluation in 29 countries on 4 continents. She has been a consultant for internationally recognized organizations such as UNESCO, ICOMOS, ICCROM, WMW, AIMF, EPA, AWHF, NORAD, Fondation Abbé Pierre and CRAterre. In 2013, she has been awarded Knight of the Order of Cultural Merit of the Republic of Côte d'Ivoire.

David Gandreau is an archaeologist, PhD in architecture, researcher at the National School of Architecture of Grenoble (ENSAG, Univ. Grenoble Alpes). He is specialized in earthen cultural heritage studies, conservation and valorization. He has carried out numerous missions of expertise and training, in particular on World Heritage sites in the Middle East, Central Asia and in Africa, with specific focus on Archaeological sites. These last years, David has developed a specific interest in identifying the lessons that can be learnt from these heritage places with potential applications for contemporary development projects (location, landscape and town planning, architecture, materials and techniques, …). Since 2018, he is co-responsible for the UNESCO Chair “Earthen Architecture, Constructive Cultures and Sustainable Development”.

Alix Hubert is a specialized architect in earthen construction. She is board member of the International Centre for Earthen Architecture (CRAterre). As a collaborating architect in different architectural agencies, she has designed, realized and managed different projects, most of them with bioclimatic design and using bio- and geo-sourced materials. Since 2010, she regularly collaborates with CRAterre and the National School of Architecture of Grenoble (ENSAG, France) through coordination and technical support missions on various projects, including: housing and school construction and repair projects (Haiti, DRCongo…), earth sector development projects (European UIA programme - Earth Cycle Project 2018-2021, international events around earthen architecture (Terra2016, Terra Education, Festival Grains d’Isère). Since 2021, she is also International Scientific Conference Coordinator for the Labex AE&CC/ENSAG research unit.

Philippe Garnier is an architect and researcher at the International Center for Earth Construction (CRAterre), AE&CC research unit, National School of Architecture, Université Grenoble Alpes heading its Habitat program. This includes Disaster Risk Reduction issues. He is currently involved in research and projects on sustainable and resilient built environment using the concept of local building cultures developed within CRAterre considering the key importance of cultures in Human Settlements topics as well as its fundamental contribution to SDG. He is also lecturing at Post-Master level (DSA – Earthen Architecture) and at Geography and Town planning Institute. He has developed specific expertise on sustainable housing and DRR through projects in Morocco, Iran, Nepal, Peru, Haiti, South Africa, etc. and conducted consultancy work and expertise for the GCI, UNESCO, UN-Habitat, EU and French Agencies. He is a member of UN-Habitat expert committee on housing, AFPCN scientific board and UGA CDP Risk steering committee.

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