Councils of Architecture, Urbanism and the Environment (CAUE)
Offering free design advice to the public
Established by the 1977 French Law on Architecture, the Councils of Architecture, Urbanism and the Environment (CAUE) are non-profit organizations that provide design advice, develop didactic materials/publications, and promote public awareness and participation in the field of architecture, urban planning and the environment. Operating at the departmental level, the CAUE offer free design advice to local citizens and public officials, among other tasks, which indirectly contributes to the quality of the built environment.
In 2016, there were 92 CAUE established, spread across almost all French Departments.
The Councils of Architecture, Urbanism and the Environment were created on the initiative of local officials and are chaired by a local elected representative. They are invested with the public mission of developing information and promoting awareness and public participation in this field, for which they may use a multiplicity of tools, such as offering free design advice to public and private clients, providing training initiatives for professionals and local authorities, and conducting awareness campaigns about the design quality of the built environment, amongst others. They have been constituted as non-profit organizations aimed to provide support to the various development actors involved in the production and management of the rural and urban space. The main financial source for the CAUE originates from a fixed percentage of the taxes on building permits charged by the municipalities. In addition, they also receive funding from their own services that they may provide to public clients, from cultural events or other type of activities, which in general are sponsored by external organizations.
The CAUE constitute a decentralized enabling service on the design of the built environment through a network of non-governmental organizations spread across the country. Among other tasks, CAUE provide free design advice and support to the general public and smaller local authorities as well as a continuous awareness-raising programme.