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Launched in 1997, ESPACE (Study of Structures and Processes of Adaptation and Change in Space) is a CNRS laboratory with about 50 permanent staff (researchers, lecturers, etc.) and 40 contractual personnel (PhD candidates, post-doctoral fellows, etc.).
Most of us are geographers, but the team also includes psychologists, economists, and computer scientists. The laboratory is affiliated with two CNRS institutes, Humanities and Social Sciences (INSHS) and Ecology and Environment (INEE), and three universities: Avignon Université, Université Côte d’Azur (Nice), and Aix-Marseille Université. We also run a fieldwork centre in the Cévennes Mountains, where measurements focussing on water resources have been carried out over recent decades.

ESPACE investigates space-nature-society interactions and their sustainability. The main themes studied include: transport, urban planning, risks (water-related risks in particular), coastal territorial systems in the Mediterranean area, land and real estate, health, and the transfer-appropriation of geographical knowledge. ESPACE’s research is strongly focused on geographical theory, modelling, and on spatial analysis methods.

The main themes studied are

  • the city: its morphologies, transport-urban planning interactions, land and property markets, development models and their sustainability, etc.
  • the environment, in particular the impact of climate change on natural resources (water and vegetation) and on risks and their management
  • coastal territorial systems in the Mediterranean, with a focus on the specific characteristics of coastal areas and their externalities
    interactions between space, the environment and health.

Whatever the subject, ESPACE’s research is distinguished by the importance it attaches to developing spatial analysis tools and methods (particularly for dealing with the multiscalar structuring of territories), modelling, whether quantitative based on simulation models or qualitative, and theorising.

Lastly, they are characterised by their strong interactions with local players (local authorities, businesses, associations, etc.) and their operational spin-offs, which ESPACE aims to amplify still further by working specifically on the players and the conditions for the production, transmission and appropriation of knowledge resulting from territorial sciences.