A Note on Collective Urban Actions

location: genk

I recently attended a presentation of the Romanian architect Constantin Petcou of the collective platform AAA (Atelier d'Architecture Autogérée, or, Studio for Self-managed Architecture), based in Paris, France. AAA transforms, together with citizens and local actors, abandoned spaces into self-managed and independent places. These spaces become re-appropriated with cultural production and parallel economic activities such as food production – all of which has influence on the social re-activation and the education of citizens. Their projects are well documented on the AAA studio website as well as the R-URBAN project website, so I won't go into details. What mainly struck me in their practice is the long term built-up of the projects – many lasted for several years and shifted and evolved through different phases. Such as the ECObox project in which they initially managed a space, later co-mananged the space together with citizens, until finally there were enough social structures in place that the spaces became auto-managed and AAA could retract and move on to other projects. Their research focus consists not only in building up these projects, but in understanding the social dynamics that take place and thinking through the tactics for the long-term survival of their efforts (such as the mobility of the interventions). One of the research methods they use is mapping and visualisation of data on the project over longer periods of time, which provides new insights on how such projects evolve both socially, financially and spatially. See some of the pictures here of the presentation. One more takeaway I got from Constantin's talk is his description of the role 'key figures' play in urban (improvement) networks. Key figures have rhizome-like capabilities: they not only pick up knowledge, but also have the ability to spread this knowledge through their social network, diversify tactics and auto-manage spaces.

Unrelated to AAA, but also worth a link are these extensive databases of urban interventions and inspiration for collective action:
Spontaneous interventions