In June 2017 we visited Doina Petrescu and Constantin Petcu from the architectural practice aaa in Paris, where they have been working on the project R-Urban for nearly ten years. From the project’s website, “R-Urban is a bottom-up strategy that explores the possibilities of enhancing the capacity of urban resilience by introducing a network of resident-run facilities to create complementarities between key fields of activity (economy, housing, urban agriculture, culture). R-Urban initiates locally closed ecological cycles that will support the emergence of alternative models of living, producing and consuming between the urban and the rural.”
Active for years in the neighbourhood of Colombe, the project was recently evicted from it’s location to make space for a car park by a right-wing municipal administration. Leaving not without protest, the project was later ‘adopted’ by another, this time more lefty borrough of the city. Wherever R-Urban elements mushroom, community-involving and -building processes are knitted around them through a series of paricipatory and bottom-up empowering activities around urban agriculture, making, skills-exchange, commoning, diverse economies, solidary business etc.
Thinking of COMUNfARE, it was extremely inspiring (but also worrying) to witness how a practice that wants to foster resilience in the urban context is able to resist the mechanisms of enclosure put in place by the neoliberal metropolis, by weaving alliances with similarly aligned partners, both on the side of people and on that of public administration. Worrying because we are conscious of the fact that a continuous re-standing up can have take a heavy toll on the practitioners’ well-being if they are not part of a large network of support that can take a hit or two without being compromised in its inner ways.