Earthen architectural heritage: CRAterre’s vision and practices

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 will cover 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.



00:02:42 – Introduction : bref history of CRAterre and our involvement in heritage conservation (Thierry Joffroy)
00:14:03 – Tools for local governments to protect and favour sustainable conservation and (re-)use of earthen heritage, Auvergne Rhône Alpes region, France (Thierry Joffroy)
00:19:47 – Conservation and management of the historic city of Yazd, Iran (Bakonirina Rakotomamonjy)
00:26:36 – Haïti, housing reconstruction project (Philippe Garnier)
00:35:26 – Mayotte: compressed earth blocks, a unique 40 years experience (Thierry Joffroy)
00:40:58 – Earth Cycle: a circular economy project on an urban scale (Alix Hubert)
00:50:00 – Alula, Saudi Arabia: learning from archaeology (David Gandreau)
01:05:45 – Concluding words (Thierry Joffroy)
01:16:46 – Questions and answers



David Gandreau, Philippe Garnier, Alix Hubert, Thierry Joffroy and Bakonirina Rakotomamonjy



Getty Conservation Institute
CRAterre – AE&CC – ENSAG – UGA


Citer ce billet
AE&CC (2022, 9 juin). Earthen architectural heritage: CRAterre’s vision and practices. CRAterre. Consulté le 15 juin 2024, à l’adresse

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