This CNRS International Research Group (GDRI) was initiated by the International Ambiances Network to explore the issue of ambiances in translation. The word ‘translation’ should be taken in the broad sense of the term, and not reduced to a strictly language-based meaning, though this aspect is obviously present in the project, indeed a key component. By putting the accent on translation, our purpose is to acknowledge the plurality of versions of and means of access to ambiances, to bring into play the notion of ambiance by situating it in a collaborative process; and to address the topic of architectural and urban ambiances by looking at the disparities and shifts this topic involves. The fourth form of translation aims to investigate the scope for exchange and circulation between the world of research and that of architecture and planning. How do the various players tasked with designing and developing private and public space grasp the field of ambiance.
What tools, transfers and processes are brought into play to make the ambiance concept operational in a professional framework?
The aim here is to look at how the field of ambiances is transformed and hybridized as soon as it comes into contact with design practice and development constraints. We shall draw on the experience of each team to put into perspective the various contexts, applications and uses of the ambiance concept. This form of translation will deliberately focus on a forward-looking approach, in search of new modus operandi for design.
The four levels of translation are central to the project. By placing ourselves between languages, disciplines, senses and activities we can set up a process of investigation capable of taking account of the complexity of the field of ambiances, and of the scientific and cultural diversity of the teams involved.
By focusing on operations designed to clarify, explore, experiment and look to the future, we can assess the possibility of a pragmatist attitude to ambiances. In this respect our purpose is not so much to take stock of existing learning or to stop at a single model for making sense of ambiance, but rather to put to the test a field of research and action that is in the process of taking shape.