The Centre de Recherche sur l’Habitat – CRH (Housing research centre), a research team currently located at the ENSA Paris-Val de Seine school of architecture and part of the Laboratoire Architecture, Ville, Urbanisme, Environnement – LAVUE, UMR CNRS 7218 (Architecture, City, Town Planning and Environment Laboratory, CNRS joint research unit), has a rich and long scientific and institutional history. A number of stages, each broadening and renewing its approaches can be identified.

Continuity with ISU - Institut de Sociologie Urbaine
Initially, CRH was the main successor of the Institut de Sociologie Urbaine – ISU created in 1963 under Henri Lefebvre who brought together Nicole Haumont (psycho-sociologist) and Marie-Geneviève Raymond (demographer) as well as Antoine Haumont (geographer) and Henri Raymond (sociologist). A non-profit, ISU relied during the 1960s on contractual research programmes initiated by the Délégation Générale à la Recherche Scientifique et Technique – DGRST, by ministries, as well as by specific bodies such as the District de la Région Parisienne and the Plan Construction. The main areas of research covered by ISU were lifestyles and urbanisation, considering for example the changes in the content of these two terms. The result was a large number of publications, some of which have since become major references for architects and town planners as well as sociologists and geographers: Les Pavillonnaires (1966) and Les Equipements culturels (1973), as well as research on cultural patterns or the transformation of French cities [1].
From the Institut de l’Habitat to the Centre de Recherche sur l’Habitat
The reorganisation of public research in the fields of social sciences, particularly with respect to the city, led to the creation of the Institut de l’Habitat in 1974 and its recognition as a Research Unit by CNRS (Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique). Run by Nicole Haumont, a CNRS research director, the Institut de l’Habitat progressively brought together young researchers from a wide range of scientific fields (from architecture and economics to sociology. This allowed the Institute to develop research on residential mobility, housing policies concerned with social and environmental issues, architectural elitism, etc. while also continuing to work on residential and social patterns. The Institut de l’Habitat began to create links with schools of architecture and research programmes run by CORDA (steering committee for architectural research and development) and the Plan Construction. When CNRS created a new multidisciplinary section called Architecture, Town Planning and Society Commission (section 49), the Institut de l’Habitat became the Centre de Recherche sur l’Habitat to participate in this movement. Since its creation in 1986, the Centre has been based at the Ecole d’Architecture de Paris-La Défense, with funding from CNRS and the Architectural Services Department of the Ministry of Equipment. This setting facilitated scientific and educational cooperation with Université Paris X-Nanterre.
LOUEST UMR : an academic base
At the end of the 1980s, public policies concerning research, on the one hand, and the reorganisation of school and university zoning in the Paris Region, on the other hand, led to new scientific and doctoral clusters. CRH contributed creating the new UMR CNRS 7145 LOUEST – Laboratoire des Organisations Urbaines: Espaces, Sociétés, Temporalités. This was carried out in cooperation with CRESSAC (Centre de Recherche sur les Savoirs et Savoir-faire de l’Architecture et de la Conception) (Ecole d’Architecture de Paris-La Défense and Ministry of Culture) run by Bernard Haumont, the Equipe Vie Urbaine (IUP-Université Paris XII-Val de Marne) run by Marcel Roncayolo, the Laboratoire d’Architecturologie (Ecole d’Architecture de Paris-La Villette and Ministry of Culture) run by Philippe Boudon, the Laboratoire de Géographie Urbaine (Université Paris X-Nanterre) run by Guy Burgel, and the Laboratoire de Psychologie Sociale run by Annie Moch. This new UMR, called LOUEST, outlined in 1986 and officialised in 1988, was run by Guy Burgel up to 2001. It created programmatic, scientific and disciplinary alliances between researchers and professors from schools of architecture, universities and CNRS. This expansion reformulated the Unit’s shared scientific programmes stemming from conferences and seminars organised by LOUEST and, above all, CRH, over the years (see list of publications). The resulting scientific programmes reveal and confirm that the large urban structures and big social alliances inherited from an industrial society tend to weaken and that there is a need to reconsider the ways in which our urban societies reorganise and settle.
In 2003, Bernard Haumont took up the direction of the renewed LOUEST, once again accredited by CNRS and DAPA (architecture and heritage division, Ministry of Culture), although with a narrower perimeter that continued to be defined by collaborations between personnel from schools of architecture and universities. Over the years, new topics have been developed within LOUEST (history of urbanisation and architectural philosophy, in particular), while within CRESSAC-CRH new issues were raised: expertise and professionalisms, architectural qualities, precarious housing, citizen participation, etc.
LAVUE founding partnerships
The early scientific programmes implemented within LOUEST were driven by CRESSAC-CRH, given it initiated a large number of conferences and seminars. The creation of the MOSAÏQUES team run by Colette Vallat in 2005 within Université Paris-X Nanterre, and the strengthening of GERPHAU run by Chris Younès, who joined the ENSA Paris-La Villette in 2007, led to a team and project-based organisation from 2005 to 2009.
Finally, in 2008-2009, CRH, from within LOUEST, played a pivotal role in the creation of LAVUE (UMR 7218) on 1 January 2010, leaded by Jean-Pierre Levy. This laboratory includes the main LOUEST teams (CRH, GERPHAU and MOSAÏQUES) as well as LAA (ENSA Paris-La Villette) and AUS (Université Paris-VIII). This leading role is based on the shared wish to think of architecture and urbanism in terms of their relations to social movements, housing policies, design practices, and professional skills. This is the main specificity of CRH within LAVUE.

[1The 9.2 issue of the 1968 volume of the Revue française de sociologie, almost exclusively presents ISU work and research.