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Participative Gardening and Communication Spaces, Paris

Year | 2002
Location | La Chapelle, Paris, France
Client | AAA [Atelier d’Architecture Autogeree/ Studio Of Self-Managed Architecture]

La Chappelle is an area with one of the highest immigration rates in Paris, 28% of its thirty thousand residents are foreigners. Geographically, it is an urban island, limited by the major train tracks of the Gare du Nord and Gare de l’Est, and the ring road of Paris that isolate the area and constitute a real break within the city.

A number of large scale industrial buildings and many underused, or abandoned fields [friches or terrain vague] are also located in the area. In a way the very urban identity of La Chappelle is given by these urban voids. They represent in fact a reserve for potential urban development, but at present, because of their degradation, they are perceived negatively by the community. AAA [Atelier d’Architecture Autogeree/ Studio Of Self-Managed Architecture] is an association founded in 2001 whose activity is founded on alternative strategies of urban regeneration in the La Chappelle area. This association, which includes students [from EA Paris Malaquais], residents and architects, promotes an inter disciplinary dialogue and architecture, urban planning, sociology, landscape and community participation…One of the AAA current projects is implementing a gardening strategy in the area with the following aims;- a flexible and reversible use of [privately owned] land, and its temporary transformation into a “ space of proximity”.

The social exchange that will take place through the newly created gardens will activate networks within the local community and create public space.- the elimination of “pockets of degradation” created by the abandoned lots and the aesthetic transformation of the area.The project consisted of the construction of the first temporary garden, built on one of these friches, a strategic site belonging to the French Train Company [RFF]. Part of the site is currently squatted on by an active sculptor.

The first users are the schools in the area. This gardening workshop will be the pilot of the emerging gardening strategy in the area. The AAA will run a small agency called Ecobox that will start to function on the site in parallel with the gardening activity and will take on further the realization and functioning of the garden. The Ecobox will facilitate the realization of other gardens in the area, develop gardening skills, communication spaces, seed and plant exchanges, introductory sessions to different cultivation and cultural practices, events.

  • Coordination.
    Doina Petrescu