The Explorative Strategy of Engagement: Atelier Bow-Wow’s Rebière Street Project in Paris

  • Johan Nielsen

    KU Leuven

  • Yves Schoonjans

    KU Leuven

  • Kris Scheerlinck

    KU Leuven


The project of Rebière Street in Paris is the first housing project of Atelier Bow-Wow outside Japan. In the framework of the Porte Pouchet renovation project, a portion of the street along the cemetery was declassified to reduce its width and to build 180 apartments in the resulting free strip. The different plots were assigned to several local and foreign architecture offices. This project is symptomatic of an emerging practice in architecture that sees offices with discourses based on local anchorage taking advantage of globalisation to propose cutting-edge spatial quality in remote locations. The close reading of the project with tools provided by the sociology of engagement allows valuable insights in the production of form in remote practice. If human primary relation to the environment coincides with a regime of engagement based on familiarity, in remote practice the relation to the environment and the local anchorage are de facto mediated. This mediation implies a systemisation of the design process. The legitimacy of this systematisation is by nature questionable and can be a source of doubt or anxiety. Addressing the design process in relation to the ideas of scale of confidence, seizure, adherence and the explorative regime of engagement this article examines how the attempts of Atelier Bow-Wow to deal with the remoteness of the site influence the production of form.


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Author Biography

Johan Nielsen, KU Leuven

Johan Nielsen is an architect living and working in Belgium. He is part of the teaching staff at the Faculty of Architecture, KU Leuven, Brussels/Ghent. He is a PhD candidate with his research project entitled “Space Suitability and the Design Process, a research on the remote architectural practice and local identities”. He is a member of the Research Group “Urban Projects, Collective Spaces and Local Identities”. He is also involved in private practice as director Brussels-based office Manger Nielsen Architects.

How to Cite
The Explorative Strategy of Engagement: Atelier Bow-Wow’s Rebière Street Project in Paris.
FOOTPRINT, [S.l.], p. 123-134, apr. 2018.
ISSN 1875-1490.
Available at: <>. Date accessed: 30 jan. 2019.


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