Little Maps, A Cartography

Little Maps is a pedagogical adventure, where we cultivate, reflect and share our own questions and experience in learning to architecture, in a constant dialogue with older and younger generations, with what's lost and what's yet to be thought.

A cartography

Little Maps is a project focused in increasing younger learners understanding and skills to make architecture, by developing a dynamic cartography which helps them reflect on and improve their intimate talent and disciplinary knowledge, providing techniques to allow them to self-assess their architecture design process. A comprehensive effort, that integrates reflection and hands-on action; speculative, critical and pragmatical thinking; research and practice; fieldwork and online engagement; scientific method and character.

Online learning is a complement to a direct dialogue with an older learner or your peers. Little Maps is not about teaching the skills necessary to know how to build, but rather to help you figure out which techniques you need to learn for each particular project. Acquiring the skills of the trade is a necessary step to actually building something, so that hopefully you can build it better. Academic learning should be manufactured to help you develop your critical thinking. Little Maps is aimed as a self-assessment cartography that can hopefully be useful to architects and self-builders of all ages and contexts, covering the vast ground among these three distinct poles. To help them know what to do when they reach a dead end, which questions to ask at each step, where to look at, at which pace to move on, making their way as they get lost from time to time.

Little Maps are shared on this written online format, as well as in seminars, workshops and studios in collaboration with higher education institutions.

-If at most architecture schools no design methodology is explained, is it possible to make one from direct experience?

-Yes. Unfortunately methodology is a word that carries some snobbish meaning, and that sometimes is used as an excuse to validate dubious ways of doing. We prefer to make a cartography that presents and locates torches, wells, steps, stages, stretches, breadcrumbs -call it what you may- and some clues on how to make your way from one to the next, step by step.

When one starts exploring new territories, a map comes in handy. As you get to know and understand a place, a trade, you start making your own mental map. You embody the knowledge and skills that you acquire. When making architecture, all questions are moving targets, but are constant and the same from case to case. It is the local priorities and contingent challenges that vary.

-Why do you call it a cartography?

-Cartography is the study and practice of making maps. These steps are not meant to give absolute answers, or unveil the ultimate truth about architecture -there is not such thing. They are just a humble exercise of clarifying and helping architects who are young and on a journey, so they can start finding their own questions, their own way.

Most architects goals are dubious. The design process is overrated. What is really important is its outcome, what it provokes. Yet the steps towards this outcome are seldom really truthfully explained or reflected on. This is a common paradox in learning to architecture.  In the end, everyone finds its own way, depending on its environment and character. It’s just that most ways provoke destruction and not construction. Building is not so difficult; on the other hand, building without destroying has become a huge challenge today.




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TEACHING, Little Map

What can architects do?

How do I know if I'm doing it right?

Which kind of information do we harvest in this initial stage? Where and when to stop? Where to look for knowledge?