research & publications

La mise en place de la stratégie R-Urban est accompagnée par des projets de recherche action.
Notamment, aaa dirige une recherche financée par le Ministère de l’Écologie en lien étroite avec l’implantation de la stratégie à Colombes, pour questionner, analyser et orienter la mise en place des processus significatifs pour l’ensemble de la stratégie : l’implication des acteurs économiques locaux, les dynamiques ‘écolomiques’ créées, l’éco-bénéfice des circuits courts, la transférabilité de la démarche à différentes échelles, etc.
Une équipe de suivi assurera la mise en place d’une base de données mise à jour régulièrement et concernant l’ensemble des processus mis en place : mécanismes, temporalités, partenaires, résultats, conflits, blocages, contradictions, étapes, etc. Une publication collective et un colloque sont prévus à la fin du projet de recherche.

L’activité de recherche va continuer avec la mise en place, à moyen terme d’une résidence de recherche et, à plus long terme, d’un centre de recherche civique sur la résilience.

L’équipe de recherche:
Constantin Petcou: architecte/sémioticien, responsable de projet, aaa
Doina Petrescu: architecte, professeur Université Sheffield, aaa
Stéphane Tonnelat: urbaniste, chercheur CNRS
Anne Querrien: sociologue urbaniste, aaa

Chercheurs associés:
Mathias Heyden: architecte activiste, ISPARA; Berlin
Katherine Gibson: économiste, Centre for Citizenship & Public Policy; Sydney
Kathrin Bohn – architecte, spécialiste agriculture urbaine; Londres
Fionn Stevenson: architecte, prof. of Sustainability; Université Sheffield
rotor: architectes, spécialistes recyclage; Brussels
Fernando Garcia Dory: artiste écologiste; Madrid

research - actions


This project explores the ecological, economic and social complementarities
between four types of territories and activities: collective/shared housing, local development
bio-agriculture and inter-culture. The reseach-action directions include: green energy production, the reduction of ecological footprint, the increase of territorial bio-capacity, the mutualisation of services and means, the participation of inhabitants and exploration of more resilient and ecologically aware lifestyles. 

Investigators: C. Petcou, D.Petrescu, N. Marchand  - aaa




Temporary Urban interstices, intercultural and under construction spaces of proximity
Funding body: The French Ministry of Culture and Communication and the Ministry of Écology and Sustainable Development and Urban Planning (MEDAD)
Investigators: C. Petcou (RDS / aaa - Paris), P. Nicolas-Le Strat (ISCRA - Montpelier) D. Petrescu (aaa - Paris / University Sheffield), N. Marchand (aaa - Paris) F. Deck (ESBA - Grenoble), K. Matthys (Agency-/ Brussels)

This action research investigates urban space through processes of architectural and artistic experimentation and mapping of urban interstices in La Chapelle area, Paris 18. The findings are largely based on conversations we had with the inhabitants of La Chapelle and with the numerous artists, activists, architects and organisations who were associated at one point or another with our work. Interstices represent what is left of resistance in big cities—resistance to normativity and regulation, to homogenization and appropriation. They embody, in a sense, what is still “available” in the city. Their provisional and uncertain status allows for hint, a glimpse of other ways of creating a city that are open and collaborative, responsive and cooperative.

The interstices function under principles of self-management and temporary, flexible and reversible programming and contingent planning.  Their economy challenges new paradigms of project which are based on temporary agencies, nomadic devices and urban catalyses.

The action research has explored a series of spatial, temporal, institutional and situational interstices and experiment with a number of participative micro-devices at different scales.

This project has been conducted within the framework of the interdisciplinary research program “Art – Architecture and Landscape” of MCC and MEDAD.


Interstices Urbains Temporaires

Interstitial Multiplicity

Research Report, PUCA, February 2008, 129 ps




PEPRAV - Platforme Européene de Recherche et d’Action sur la Ville / European Platform for Research and Action on the City

partnership:  atelier d’architecture autogérée (Paris), School of Architecture, University of Sheffield, Recyclart (Brussels), MetroZones (Berlin).


PEPRAV is a trans-national network which conducts action and research on the city and supports micro-urban dynamics which are temporary and informal and generate alternative urbanity.  It includes artist groups, media activists, cultural workers, software designers, architects, students, researchers, neighbourhood organisations and city dwellers.

Over the course of one year, PEPRAV worked in three different locations – Paris, Brussels and Sheffield – involving participants from France, Belgium, England, Germany, Northern Ireland, Sweden, Slovenia, Croatia, Spain, Canada, and organising a series of workshops, actions and symposia that dealt with alternative pedagogy, subjective and collective cartography, methodologies of action research, urban tactics and urban interstices. The Platfom and aaa have published an open source website ( and a collective book, Urban ACT, which assembles the work of 23 groups and a number of theoretical texts addressing related issues.



AAA video archive

2002-ongoing The AAA video archive includes video documents filmed and archived since 2001, following the process of land occupation, construction and use of the different projects, notably ECObox and 56 St. Blaise. The archive has been conceived as a self-reflective tool, collecting spontaneous testimonials, moments, gestures, instances of everyday life. The images have been taken by a « participant camera »- a camera that was part of the process, that moved from hand to hand, being accessible to everyone who wanted to be involved (residents, children, artists, aaa members, etc) It is an amateur camera which captures different points of view, different desires to show and gives as such different visions of a bottom up constructed project. Archiving the everyday from inside-out means archiving the non spectacular : the multiplicity of microscopic gestures, gazes, words, desires that progressively accumulated during the collective construction of a project. The archive documents somehow the slow process of collective subjectivation: the process of emergence of the collective subject within its different instances and moments of coming up. This slow process resulted in a big archive which includes a huge amount of rough material of very diverse quality. The sequences were tagged with keywords and stored with iDive software.




Analysis of an emerging eco-urbanity network in the La Chapelle area,  Paris 18th  district
Investigators C. Petcou (RDS/aaa) D. Petrescu (aaa / University of Sheffield), P. Nicolas-Le Strat (ISCRA), S. Bulle (EHESS), A. Guez (LAA), D. Favret (aaa)

Funding body: PUCA (Plan Urbanisme Construction Architecture) and The French Ministry of Urban Planning


A renewed approach to architecture and urban planning cannot be initiated solely by centralised structures and governmental bodies. This research-action focuses on processes of transformation of leftover spaces and urban interstices in La Chapelle area, in the North of Paris into a network of collectively managed hosting a series of everyday life activities: gardening, cooking, chatting, learning, recycling, playing, self-building. These processes have been initiated by atelier d'architecture autogérée (aaa) within the framework of an ECOurban strategy which started in 2001 with the ECObox project. 
La Chapelle is an area isolated by railway tracks and inhabited by a multiethnic population. The existence of a big number of temporary available spaces and industrial friches has been interpreted positively, becoming a support for the revalorization of the neighborhood. ECO box has generated a series of collective spaces managed by diverse groups of inhabitants.  
AAA has chosen to orchestrate a long term and progressive appropriation of spaces and to allow  ‘a maximum of time for a minimum of space’ In order to accommodate the multiple conflicts generated by the social and cultural fragmentation of the area. Initiated by a garden, the project has developed into a complex network of social, cultural and political production which involved diverse local populations and extended trans-locally.  
Research Report, PUCA: mai 2004



‘Une micro-politique de la ville : l’agir urbain‘ profile issue of Multitudes n°31,
edited by D. Petrescu, A. Querrien, C. Petcou, Paris, January 2008
(PDF of editorial)

What Makes a Biopolitical Place?, a discussion with Toni Negri
Constantin Petcou, Doina Petrescu, Anne Querrien, Paris - September 17, 2007
(PDF eng)

C. Petcou, D. Petrescu -  'Acting Space: transversal notes, on-the-ground observations, and concrete questions for us all', in Urban ACT, aaa-peprav, 2007 (PDF eng)

D.Petrescu, ‘How to make a community as well as the space for it’ in re-public: reimagining democracy (, 2007

aaa, (text by Sebastian Niemann) in Architecture d'Aujourd'hui 368, January 2007

aaa, (text by Ruth Morrow) -  ECObox. Mobile devices and urban tactics  in Domus 908, November 2007 

D. Petrescu ‘Working with uncertainity towards a real public space’, in if you can’t find it, give us a ring, Public Works publication IXIA, Birmingham, 2006

C. Petcou and D.Petrescu ‘Au Rez de Chausee de la Ville’, in Multitudes n°20 : spring 2005, Paris (

D. Petrescu “Planning losing control“, in Jeremy Till, Doina Petrescu Peter Blundell-Jones (ed), Architecture and Participation, Routledge, 2005

‘Critical Urbanism’, in the catalogue ‘A Lucky Strike: Kunst Findet Stadt’, GAK, Bremen 2006
(PDF of book)

‘Atelier de Transition’ in Envers de Villes by Alice Laguarda, Editions Michel Place, Paris 2006

Changing Habitats: Art Experience and Urban Development, by Horst Griese, GAK Bremen, 2005

Pascal Nicolas LeStrat, Un projet d'Éco-urbanité; L'expérience d'ECObox dans le quartier La Chapelle à Paris, ISCRA (Institute of Cooperative Social Research) (

 ‘Mechanics of Fluids’ on Urban Clearance (

Envers les Villes, Institut Français d’Architecture – AFAA (

Complex Berlin - 3rd Berlin Biennale of Contemporary Art, ed. Ute Meta Bauer, BB3 - BWK, Köln 2004

Eselsohr: Our view of the city, Journal of Everyday Urbanism  n°1, Bremen, 2005 



Urban Act, a handbook for alternative practice, aaa (eds), aaa-PEPRAV, Paris, 2007
(PDF) + press release / ordering form



Au rez-de-chaussée de la ville - DVD 34' / atelier d’architecture autogérée 2005

The film is a montage of visual and sound material selected from the ECObox archive and edited by Jan Ralske and aaa. This material has been recorded since 2001 by Constantin Petcou, Doina Petrescu, Denis Favret, Béatrice Rettig, Giada Mangiameli, John Sampson, Jérôme Ayasse, Jean-Baptiste Bayle, Giovanni Piovene, Leila Gharbi, Marina Galimberti and a group of children including Dramé Zeinabou, Fatima Zeinabou, Nimaga Zeinabou, Habibetou, Fatima, Fodié.

Text of the DVD cover :
ECObox is a social and urban experiment initiated in 2001 by the Atelier d’Architecture Autogérée / Studio of Self-managed Architecture (AAA) in the La Chapelle area, Paris.

The participants in the project are residents, artists, architects, researchers, activists, students, children, unemployed workers, immigrants, politicians, pensioners, film-makers, landscape-designers, etc.  In April 2005, four years after the beginning of the project, a few hundred people participated actively in trans-local cultural actions, know-how workshops, solidarity networks and local and international projects.

At present, the City of Paris prepares the renovation of the Halle Pajol, the site of the ECObox project. Despite of the local and international recognition of the project and the political commitment within it, the strictly administrative procurement of the renovation process has lead to a series of decisions that tend to provoke the dismantling of Ecobox and of its human infrastructure.

Un espace à venir / A Space On The Way - DVD 17' / atelier d’architecture autogérée 2005

The film has been edited from material of the AAA archives by Jan Ralske and AAA.

Participative filming: Constantin Petcou, Béatrice Rettig, Doina Petrescu, Isabelle Mercier, Giada Mangiameli and Patrick Laroche.

Text of the DVD cover :
The Fashion and Skills Show took place on the 28th May 2005 at ECObox in the North of Paris. This action has been developed by the Atelier d'Architecture Autogérée / Studio of Self-managed Architecture (AAA) in 2004-2005 with the ECObox users, residents and artisans in  La Chapelle area.

The Fashion Show has been one of the last events organised in ECobox in 2005.

In order to start with the renovation of the Halle Pajol, which will be finished in 2011, the City of Paris cut the electricity on the 28th of June 2005 and threatened with eviction of the occupants of the Halle, including ECObox. ECObox has been moved by its users to a plot that was proposed by the City for temporary use, located opposite the former garden. Some users have ded their involvement with the garden and other activities. Others are now even more motivated to continue with their projects.


Donner - Prendre le temps / Giving - Taking the Time - DVD 11' / atelier d’architecture autogérée 2006

« Palaver » - a retrospective dialogue between some participants in the ECObox project

The film has been edited from material of the AAA archives by Rapsode production and AAA.

Participative filming: Constantin Petcou, Doina Petrescu, Béatrice Rettig, Tatiana Fernandez, Giada Mangiameli and Marina Galimberti.

Participants in the discussion that accompany the film : Michelle Chevrillon, Isabelle Mercier, Doina Petrescu, Fabienne Molinier, Constantin Petcou, Béatrice Rettig.





download poster AAA