Founded in 2001 by Franco-Romanian architects Constantin Petcouand and Doina Petrescu, AAA stages creative urban interventions that involve neighborhood residents in re-imagining unused, derelict spaces; for example, establishing a community hub in a pass-through between buildings or planting a self-sufficient vegetable garden in a space between high rises that was formerly treated as a place to throw refuse. AAA acts as the creative instigator; empowering communities to carry out and sustain their own urban regeneration ideas.
In a project titled Rhyzom the team started with a survey of models of sustainable community living around Europe. After mapping examples of co-housing, small-scale agriculture, and cottage industry, they translated their observations into workshops in green roof design, rainwater collection systems, waste recycling, food growing, and handicrafts.
Taking their findings further, AAA developed R-Urban, a prototype for sustainable city life on the outskirts of Paris. In the working-class suburb of Colombes, the team is creating a living laboratory for the local residents to produce their own food supply and recycle waste, closing the local loops of consumption and production. The multi-year plan includes ecological construction, urban agriculture, a recycling program, and cooperative housing.
While AAA has become an engine for engaging citizens in shaping their own cities through experimentation and renewal of derelict urban space, Doina has thoughtfully dovetailed this work into her own pedagogy, exposing students to radical ideas of how faculty, students, and communities can deconstruct social hierarchies and work together to create better communities.
We had a chance to speak with Doina about her philosophy, of both work and teaching, on Social Design Insights. Join co-hosts Eric Cesal and Karen Kubey as they explore new directions in the teaching of design.
And don’t forget to check out Doina’s recommendations for further study!