IRSTV: preparing cities for change

IRSTV: preparing cities for change - Ifsttar - IRSTV-UNE_img

© Nicolas Antigny

IRSTV (Institute for Research on Urban Sciences and Techniques) is a research grouping that brings together twenty-three research teams from the Pays de la Loire region, including three from IFSTTAR. Its researchers conduct interdisciplinary research that focuses on sustainable urban development. Let’s find out more…

“The Institute fosters cross-cutting research projects that permit the study of all aspects of cities –environmental, energy related, acoustic, human, etc. It is one of the three centres in France that are dedicated to the City” explains Béatrice Bechet, who is the IRSTV’s director and a researcher at IFSTTAR’s LEE laboratory. IRSTV is a CNRS research grouping set up in 2006 and housed on the campus of the Ecole Centrale de Nantes and which provides a link between research on urban environments and sustainable urban planning. It brings together about a hundred researchers, engineers and technicians from 23 teams based in the Pays de la Loire region. IFSTTAR’s 25 researchers, doctoral students and technicians from the LEE, UMRAE (a research unit that is managed jointly by IFSTTAR and CEREMA) and Geoloc, mean that

“IFSTTAR is the grouping’s main provider of human resources and also gives it important financial support”

Béatrice Bechet indicates. IRSTV’s work is organised around seven research themes, and the Institute helps to “improve our understanding of the urban ecosystem in order to enhance the quality of life in cities and foresee the adaptations that will be required because of climate change” ─ an aim which is completely in tune with IFSTTAR’s strategic goals.

An environment that fosters multidisciplinary research

“The grouping allows researchers to work on projects that fall outside their research specialisation” points out Valérie Renaudin, who leads the Geoloc group at IFSTTAR. The European Horizon 2020 project “Nature4Cities” clearly shows the added value provided by IRSTV. “This project, which we are leading jointly with CEREMA (also an IRSTV member), brings together 12 researchers from the grouping, 6 of whom are from IFSTTAR, with a variety of specialisms – sociology, psychology, acoustics, hydrology, micro-climatology, soil sciences… in order to ensure that once more nature is given a central role in the innovation, planning and implementation process for urban projects” Béatrice Bechet remarks. IRSTV also provides an environment that fosters multidisciplinary research, contributing administrative support (financial management of projects, assistance in setting up doctoral research projects and internships), conference rooms and offices...

“IFSTTAR’s expertise in the deployment of sensor networks and data collection and analysis is particularly valuable” the grouping’s head highlights. Within IRSTV, researchers from IFSTTAR are leading - individually or jointly - research on four themes. The theme of “Urban Tomography” sets out to model the urban environment as precisely as possible in order, for example, to improve pedestrian navigation. “Urban Microclimate and Energy” focuses on developing strategies to enable cities to adapt to global changes, whether due to the climate or growing urbanisation. Research for the “Urban Sound Environment” theme designs acoustic analysis tools for planning (from local authorities, urban planners, etc.). In this context, IFSTTAR is leading, within IRSTV, the ANR CENSE project on the “Characterisation of urban sound environments”. Last, the researchers working on the theme of “Urban soils” are studying the quality of soils and pollutant transfers, particularly in urban community gardens. Another important aspect is the involvement of IRSTV scientists in the Observatoire nantais des environnements urbains (ONEVU). This multidisciplinary platform – one of IRSTV’s cross cutting programmes – is supported by the LEE and brings together six experimental measurement sites dealing with, for example, flows of water, pollutant and energy, temperature, moisture and soil quality.