Atelier D’Architectureautogérée

Atelier D’Architectureautogérée

Group – Paris, France
2001 onwards

Atelier d’architectureautogérée (aaa – Studio for Self-managed Architecture) is a practice based in Paris co-founded by architects, ConstantinPetcou and DoinaPetrescu in 2001. aaa acts as a platform for collaborative research and action on the city and much of their work is carried out with other specialists, artists, researchers and institutional partners such as universities, arts organisations and NGOs, as well as the eventual users of their spaces. Whilst the founding members of aaa remain, the practice operates as a collaborative network that forms around each project.

aaa’s projects are experiments in the temporary reuse of leftover urban space through the setting up of an enabling infrastructure that is slowly taken over by local residents and transformed into self-managed spaces. Ecobox consists of a series of gardens made from recycled materials, in the La Chapelle area of northern Paris, for which they also produced a number of mobile furniture elements working with students and designers. These included cooking, media and workshop stations that can be moved around and out of the garden as needed. Over the five years (2001 – 2006) that aaa were actively involved in its day-to-day running, Ecobox became a venue for cultural, social and economic activities, initiated by them and local residents; for example, Stalker/OsservatorioNomadeorganised a workshop and installation as part of their collaborative project ‘Via Egnatia’, whilst a group of residents ran a monthly market and others set up a small food business making use of the cooking module. It is at the level of this activation of social interest and action that AAA’s practice is most successful; they act as curators and enablers whilst at the same time leaving enough room for others to take over responsibility, to the point that residents campaigned for another site when the garden was finally evicted from its original location.

Their most recent project, Passage 56, is the transformation of a disused passageway, located in a Parisian neighbourhood noted for its density and cultural diversity, into a productive garden that minimises its ecological footprint through recycling, composting and use of solar panels. By means of a continuous participative process, the project was drawn up and constructed with minimal cost, using recycled materials collected by the residents themselves. It was carried out in collaboration with a local organisation running youth training programmes in eco-construction and was partly commissioned by local government, fulfilling one of aaa’s stated aims to influence local policy towards the reuse and development of leftover spaces in the city. The Passage 56 project reinforces the idea that public space does not need to culminate in the idea of the physical construction of a designed object but is continuously developed as a social, cultural and political production. Here, the client does not precede the intervention but gradually emerges in the group of people who manage it, offering proof that everyday ecological practice can transform present spatial and social relations in a dense and culturally diverse metropolis.

Key Projects

Other Work

AAA and PEPRAV (eds.), UrbanACT (Montrouge: MoutotImprimeurs, 2007).
Peter Blundell Jones, DoinaPetrescu and Jeremy Till (eds.), Architecture and Participation (Abingdon: Spon Press, 2007).
ConstantinPetcou and DoinaPetrescu, ‘Au Rez de Chausee de la Ville’, Multitudes, 2005,
DoinaPetrescu, ‘How to make a community as well as the space for it’, Re-public: Reimagining Democracy, 2007, [accessed 10 May 2010].
DoinaPetrescu (ed.), Altering Practices: Feminist Politics and Poetics of Space (London: Routledge, 2007).
‘PlatformeEuropéene de Rechercheetd’Actionsur la Ville / European Platform for Research and Action on the City’, [accessed 10 May 2010].
References About
Sebastian Niemann, ‘AAA’, Architecture d’Aujourd’hui, 2007.
Ruth Morrow, ‘ECObox.Mobile devices and urban tactics’, Domus, (2007): 50-53.
Created with Raphaël
Collections of Alternative Approaches
Patrick Bouchain
Amateur Building Tactics
Direct Action
Santiago Cirugeda
City Mine(d)
Community Design Centers
Cedric Price
John Habraken
Giancarlo de Carlo
Yona Friedman
John Turner
Walter Segal
Community Self Build Agency
The Anarchitecture Group
Constant Nieuwenhuys
Estudio Teddy Cruz
public works
muf architecture/art
Jeanne van Heeswijk
Caracas Think Tank
Atelier d’architectureautogérée
Crimson Architectural Historians
Matrix Feminist Design Co-operative
Artists and Spatial Practice
Drop City
Community Technical Aid Centres

Related Organisations

Related Events



Ecobox garden. Photo: aaa


Ecobox garden with mobile modules. Photo: aaa


Passage 56 community garden. Photo: aaa


Passage 56 entrance. Photo: aaa