Passage 56, Paris

Name: Passage 56
Location: 56 Rue St. Blaise, 75020, Paris, France
Organisational Structure: “Self-managed” project
Start Date: 2005
Key Agents: Doina Petrescu, Constantin Petcou
Research: Secondary Source
Tags: #activist; #diy build; #education(al)#volunteer run;


Participation is key to the work of aaa. At Passage 56, aaa showed how subverting building codes and regulations with a robust set of “tactics for a transgressive practice” (Petrescu & Petcou, 2013) could allow the community a much greater role in the regeneration of “unbuildable” spaces.

Description and Images:


Passage 56, was an unused space in Paris on St. Blaise Street, considered to be “unbuildable” to such an extent the site was gifted to aaa, by the DPVI to explore any uses for the site they could come up with (aaa, n.d.). At Passage 56, aaa signed the building contract as an NGO, rather than an architectural practice (Petrescu & Petcou, 2013).

The built form of Passage 56, falls below the size restrictions in French Building codes that would have required the building to be designed by an architect, allowing the community a greater role in its design. Other regulations, including health and safety and insurance, were circumvented with a set of tactics that has allowed the community a role in building and planning the building which would normally not be possible. The architects at aaa, instead designed processes that allowed this to happen and partnered with other groups including a construction school that brought in skills needed to complete the project instead of outsourcing to a contractor.

During the early stages of the work and the buildings life, aaa owned and ran the building but allowed members of the public to join aaa, merely by being a user of the space. This allowed In 2009, with the project established, a local residents group was established and the building transitioned into their control.

Participation within the project is not on the basis that we are accustomed to within architecture. Instead, the architects and users both “transgressed” their roles and took one new ones (Petrescu & Petcou, 2013).


– Matthew Halton


atelier d’architecture autogérée. (n.d.). Projets: Passage 56. Retrieved from:
Petrescu, D. (2010). Gardeners of the common. In D. Petrescu, C. Petcou & N. Awan (Eds.), Trans-local-act cultural practices within and across. Paris: aaa/peprav.
Petrescu, D. & Petcou, C. (2013, November 14). Tactics for a transgressive practice. Architectural Design. Vol. 83, Iss. 6, pp58-65. Doi: 10.1002/ad.1675