City and territory

The Berney cadastre

The Berney cadastre is the main witness of the urban development of Lausanne in the first half of the 19th century. It was established between 1827 and 1831 and covers the entire Lausanne region. The project of vectorization of the Berney cadastre aims to make it digitally intelligible and therefore searchable. Its scientific potential is exceptional in two respects. Firstly, it is one of the few cadastres of this period to extensively document peri-urban areas. Indeed, farms and hamlets in the surrounding area are mapped in detail within a very large radius. It is therefore a valuable source for documenting the process of urbanization, as well as for studying the history of the economy prior to the industrial revolution, from the point of view of the territory. Secondly, it is a figuratively uniform cadastre, which has made it possible to implement automatic segmentation technologies based on neural networks. These technologies were recently developed at the EPFL and the Berney cadastre was thus one of the first maps to benefit from this technology, which is unique in the world.

In addition to the geometries of the parcels, the Berney cadastre is accompanied by a precious and detailed legend describing the use of the land and naming the owners. The extraction of this data is the next step in the Berney cadastre project and has already been partially done by hand for the built parcels. The Berney cadastre sheets were also georeferenced, allowing an intuitive comparison with the current city.

Within the framework of the course Digital Urban History: Lausanne Time Machine, 2020-2021, a group of students from EPFL and Unil developed a one-year project around the vectorized data of the Berney cadastre. Their project focused on the possibility to link the cadastral data to the 1832 census and to develop an interactive navigation interface. They also studied the distribution of occupation at the street level and thus spatialized the economic disparities of the time.

Occupation of the inhabitants, Rue de Bourg, Lausanne, 1832. © M. Jan, L. Marques Pippus, A. Valentin, and N. Fiorellino.

The Melotte cadastre

The creation of the Melotte cadastre began in 1721 and ended in 1727. This makes it one of the oldest cadastres in Europe and in the world. Although Lausanne had already been the subject of a schematic cadastre in the 17th century, the Melotte is the first geometric survey of the city. The Melotte cadastre embodies the Lausanne of the Enlightenment, and the surroundings. Because of its age, it is of particular historical importance for the history of urban planning and cartography. The Melotte sheets have already been extracted and geolocalized and they could be the subject of further extraction in the near future.

Lausanne 4D

The purpose of the reconstruction of Lausanne in 4 dimensions is to popularize and visualize the results of research on the territory. This type of reconstitution is also a technical challenge whose pipeline is still largely manual. However, the 4D reconstruction is the ultimate and intuitive representation of the history of the territory and we believe that the next few years will see a massive shift towards this kind of representation. To learn more about this subject, please refer to the publication below.

The Advent of the 4D Mirror World

F. Kaplan; I. di Lenardo 

Urban Planning. 2020-06-30. Vol. 5, num. 2, p. 307. DOI : 10.17645/up.v5i2.3133.