Heritage, Culture and City

The “heritage, culture and city” group is developing research projects at the intersection of social science, architecture, and urban studies.
Gulou, Chine 2018 - photo: Florence Graezer Bideau

Gulou, Chine 2018 – photo: Florence Graezer Bideau

The projects of the “Heritage, Culture and City” group interrogate the place and the role of social actors in the process of heritage-formation from the perspective of the cultural and urban policies that underpin it.

The objective of these studies is to understand local impacts on lifestyles and on the memory of places in a context of change.

As a universal phenomenon, heritage is a major stake in the social and historical constructions of all societies. Understanding its operation makes it possible to better grasp one of the major global challenges of our time: the question of identities in a world in transition. Heritage is, in effect, directly linked to social groups’ cultural values and to the process of identification that allows them to differentiate themselves from others. During social changes, heritage thus plays a central role through the meanings that it carries collectively, which link individuals to the past, the present, and the future.

Using social actors to capture these dynamics, the “Heritage, Culture and City” group is developing projects on the implementation and the effects of public policy in the areas of culture and urbanism.

In order to critically and reflexively study the construction of cultural and urban policy in relation to the forms of heritage (tangible, intangible, industrial) in diverse geographic and cultural contexts (Switzerland, China, Malaysia, Hong Kong, Singapore, India, Italy and Mexico), the work mobilizes knowledge and methods from the field of cultural heritage:

  • anthropology
  • sociology
  • history
  • geography
  • political science
  • architecture, and urbans studies

On the basis of field studies, they interrogate narrative, operational, and technological mechanisms for the valorization of heritage that are implemented in different areas by authorities (local, national, and international) as well as the perception and the uses of these heritage transformations by the populations concerned.

The goal of the “heritage, culture and city” group is to capture local impacts on lifestyles and the memory of places in a context of change.


Les 17 et 18 novembre 2022 à l’université de Lille (FR).

Ongoing projects:

Some completed projects:

Collaboration and funding:

The research pursued through the “heritage, culture and city” group is financially supported by third party funding institutions at the national and international level (FNS, SNIS, Compania San Paolo) and also draws upon a network of collaboration within EPFL (CDH, ENAC) and abroad (Politecnico di Torino, Tsinghua University, H2020 et GIS patrimoine en partage). 

The extremely active members of this group include researchers (Florence Graezer Bideau, Thierry Theurillat, Huishu Deng), academic hosts (Filippo De Pieri, Alessandro Armando, Davide Vero, Peter Bille Larsen) as well as doctoral students (Monique Bolli, Lucia Bordone, Helena Roux and Zhang Mengke) associated with projects that are funded or in development, covering a range of expertise.

The dynamism of the research is also reflected in interdisciplinary instruction that is associated with it or in the list of published works.

Finally, its members contribute to the « Emerging Asia research group » run in partnership with UNIL.

Image Gallery :


The Heritage, Culture and City group is led by MER Florence Graezer Bideau