ARCHIVAL-CITY is slated to become a key resource for better understanding and exploiting urban archives, and also to imagine, debate and plan the city of the future by incorporating data from the past. It will serve as the bridge and communication link that was missing between those who are interested in the city’s past and those building its future. Used not only by researchers, historians and archivists, but also by local government, policy-makers and urban operators, as well as citizens eager to take part in their urban environment, ARCHIVAL-CITY is making a strong wager on the fact that needs are circular and complementary.


One can easily and spontaneously list many issues for the city of the future which will require the use of data from the urban past: knowledge, protection and management of material or immaterial heritage; identification of long-term risks and natural resources of cities; classification of the instruments of urban planning in ordered series (strategic planning, regulations, operational instruments, urban policies…); identification of former and current ways of living together and/or conflictuality in urban societies undergoing globalisation; diversification of cartographic public uses and spatialisation of past data.

The heart of ARCHIVAL-CITY’s approach consists of questioning the concept of urban archives on an international scale. Six fields have been chosen, and for each, one major issue will be examined:

  • Algiers: archives displaced due to a colonial context
  • Bologna: archiving and indexing over the very long term
  • Chiang-Mai: how to archive the ephemeral architecture of a city
  • Greater Paris: the issue of shifting cities and archives to a metropolitan scale
  • Jerusalem: the very high diversity of languages and communities archived
  • Quito: urban disasters and resilient archives

The goal is not to add up the fields, but to use them as starting points for thinking about how cities produce, sort, preserve and use their archives to address classic development issues (extension, urban renewal, managing resources and populations, infrastructures, major facilities, etc.).