Open Lecture with Doina Petrescu: How to co-produce a resilient city?

Date and time
December 7, 2017, at 05:30 PM - 07:00 PM
Type of event
Place and route

LM Ericssons väg 14, Stockholm (Look at a map)
Underground station: Telefonplan (Timetables at SL)

Co-production has become a buzzword in these times of crisis and austerity: it posits the necessity to engage citizen in self-providing services collectively in a context in which the welfare state is not there anymore to organise public services. In the context of the city transformation, co-production can be understood also as a political project rooted in Lefebvre’s idea of ‘social production of space’.

Architect Doina Petrescu from the Paris based practice atelier d'architecture autogérée (aaa) will in this Sites and Sutuations open lecture present and discuss these issues around the project R-Urban.

Magnus EricsomProtected address

Department of Design, Interior Architecture and Visual Communication

More information

Under the current imperative to adapt and find solutions to the long-term environmental and economic crises societies face today, our cities need to become more resilient, need to adjust and thrive in rapidly changing circumstances. This need for resilience, which cities have little capacity to deal with at this moment in time, in fact comes with a right to resilience for all citizens, a right to be informed about, decide, act upon and manage the future of cities. This would be a truly ambitious coproduction project that should involve the entire urban population. Such a project needs ideas, tools and spaces, time and agency. It needs agents and activators. Can architects be such agents? What tools and means can be used at times of crisis and scarcity? How can progressive practices be initiated while acting locally and on a small scale? How can civic cultures of collaboration and sharing be reactivated and sustained in economic, environmental and social terms alike?

These are some of the questions we tackled with R-Urban, a bottom–up framework for resilient urban regeneration, initiated by atelier d'architecture autogérée (aaa) in 2008. R-Urban is one of the many small-scale initiatives to have emerged in response to the slow pace of governmental procedures and the lack of consensus in further addressing the challenges of global crisis and evaluating their consequences for people’s lives. R-Urban was conceived as an open source strategy enabling residents to play an active part in changing the city while also changing their ways of living in it. This strategy creates a network of citizen projects and grassroots organisations around a series of self-managed collective facilities – civic hubs – hosting economic ecological and cultural activities and everyday practices that contribute to boosting resilience in an urban context. The network, which acts through locally closed circuits, starts at a neighbourhood level and progressively scales up to the city and regional level.

R-Urban addresses communities from urban and suburban contexts, involving a diversity of actors (i.e. residents, local authorities, public organisations, professionals, civic stakeholders) to take various responsibilities in the project's governance. In contrast to other regeneration projects conceived by specialist teams and facilitated by managerial structures, the architects and planners here take an active role as initiators, facilitators, mediators and consultants in various civic partnerships brought about by the project. This leads to a more effective, faster and more sustainable implementation, and allows for greater participation of non-specialists in co-producing it.

Currently, two R-Urban hubs - Agrocité and Recyclab - have been built in Colombes, a suburban town near Paris and another hub in London – the R-Urban Wick. New hubs are in construction or in the setting up process by different groups and stakeholders in the Parisian Region and in Europe.

The hubs are collectively run and their architecture showcases the various issues they address, such as local material recycling, local skills, energy production, and food growing. In addition to giving citizens the opportunity to take active roles in their neighbourhoods, the hubs provide infrastructure for training and reskilling, creating opportunities for people to invent their own jobs as part of a different economy.

The R-Urban hubs are planned to grow in number and be managed by a cooperative land trust, which will acquire space, facilitate development, and guarantee democratic governance. R-Urban will basically become a sustainable network of urban commons built and managed under resilience principles.

DOLNA PETRESCU is Professor of Architecture and Design Activism at the University of Sheffield. She is co-founder, together with Constantin Petccu, of atelier d’architecture autogérée (aaa), a collective platform which conducts explorations, actions and research concerning participative architecture, resilience and cities co-produced transformation. Recent projects include Ecobox and Passage 56 in Paris and R-Urban, a participative strategy for local resilience in the Parisian Region.

SITES AND SITUATIONS is a postgraduate Konstfack course exploring and experimenting in how to organise platforms for practice and discourse within socially engaged, investigative and critical design and architecture practice.


Updated: 27 November 2017