CE27 - Culture, créations, patrimoine

Architectural education during the 20th century – EnsArchi

Submission summary

Over the course of the XXth century, urban projects, the modern Movement, the emergence of social programs and new techniques, contributed to profound changes in the teaching of architecture, which similarly experienced the effects of the democratization and feminization of higher education. In Germany and the United States, scholars have analyzed the consequences of these evolutions. In France, however, historians of education have studied changes in higher education, but architecture has for the most part remained outside their purview, despite current reforms and changes in the status of architecture teachers. Existing studies focus on the main Parisian school, ignoring the many others that existed; fascinated by the 19th century, studies have paid little heed to the which remain issues of concern today, as the current reforms indicate; interested primarily in theory, scholars have focused on the study of treatises, neglecting that of pedagogical transformations and their effects.
This research project responds in two-fold fashion to this situation. To begin with, it explores the history of the teaching of architecture in France in the 20th and 21st centuries in relation to questions about the professionalization of architectural work, contributing thus to the renewal of existing historiography while offering as well a comparative perspective. Secondly, it seeks to preserve existing traces of this history through the collection and cataloguing of rapidly vanishing local archives, through the constitution of an oral history library, and the digitalization of vanishing printed sources.
The architectural section of the Ecole des beaux-arts experienced significant changes and moments of crisis at three moments over the course of the 20th century, following a long period of development and continuity in the preceding century. Its hegemony was initially challenged in 1903 with the emergence of the first regional schools. In 1940 the creation of the order of architects and the ensuing reorganization of the profession meant,that the diploma delivered by the Beaux-arts became the condition sine qua non to acquire the title of architect. Finally, in May 1968, the “architecture” section of the Beaux-arts literally exploded, provoking the creation of new “pedagogical units of architecture” in Paris and the disappearance of regional schools in the provinces replaced by these units. These constituted the basis of the existing national superior schools of architecture.
These successive changes challenged the centralization of architectural teaching, its relationship to the profession, its pedagogical methods and the “scientifization” of its content. The project explores these issues, which remain issues of concern today as the current reforms indicate, in relation to the process of democratization and feminization that simultaneously affected the institution’s teaching and study body. The research team assembles historians and sociologists to addresses these questions; scholars who work within architectural schools as well as universities, in the Paris region, as well as the provinces, in order to engage a methodical inventory of archives and oral sources. This aspect of the project is an essential condition for the production of new knowledge and the opening of new perspectives.

Project coordination

Anne-Marie CHATELET (Arts, civilisation et histoire de l'Europe (EA 3400))

The author of this summary is the project coordinator, who is responsible for the content of this summary. The ANR declines any responsibility as for its contents.


LACTH Laboratoire d'Architecture Conception Territoire Histoire
INAMA Investigations sur l'histoire et l'actualité des mutations architecturales
AUSSER Architecture Urbanisme Société : Savoirs, Enseignement, Recherche
Ambiances Architectures Urbanités
Géoarchitecture - TUBE Géoarchitecture. Conception, aménagement et gestion du cadre bâti et de l'environnement : doctrines et pratiques
ARCHE _ UNISTRA Arts, civilisation et histoire de l'Europe (EA 3400)

Help of the ANR 309,016 euros
Beginning and duration of the scientific project: October 2019 - 36 Months

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