a walking architecture unschool

3. Cartography: The whole equation

3. The whole equation (PLAN).

-The precise, rigorous ordering and qualification of the data and the initial unknown quantities, the relations between them, will give us a complex equation with multiple questions and clear priorities. The questions are about what and how we’ll add or take out, and the overall needs and possibilities of the current commission.

-This equation does not have the form of an equation. It resembles a diagram. This equation is not, and cannot be solved by, some preestablished formulas. The way how we order these questions will generate the plan, and in order to develop it, in the following stages, we will apply some techniques, both known or made on purpose for this particular study case.

-The plan is the outcome of an objective process. It needs to be totally justified by practical and performability reasons, which of course include dweller's and builder's feelings, not ours.  


-What is a diagram?

-It is data organized in such a way that establishes qualitative relations between several items. It is a map that has no direction and place yet. Our diagrams don't need to have the shape of a diagram. They just contain the basic relationships of our plan.

-What is a plan?

-It is the actions with timing and resources that will help us achieve our goal. It is similar to a strategy, but we are not in a war situation.


-What documents do we produce here?

-In this stage, we draw nothing but thoughts, as diagrams or ideograms. From these first three stages we will obtain a few priorities and a few questions, that form our plan. All important questions that will appear along the way of the project, are implied in this equation.

-Most of the mistakes made in a project are a consequence of a lack of critical attitude, attention and rigour in these first stages. The answers will not be relevant and pertinent if the questions are incomplete or confused. Too often there is a tendency to eliminate, in an arbitrary or capricious way, some of the questions of the equation. Or prejudiced answers are anticipated, in a static and finished way, so that the project is only a lineal way to build a fixed image. This is due to ignorance, or some egotistic dark ambitions and desires of the architect. We know for hundreds of years now that all this doesn’t work.

-If we have been rigorous and precise in these first three steps, the resulting plan, displayed in one or more diagrams, will guide us on the sometimes too winding way. We can always come back to them whenever we get lost, or doubt visits us too often.

-We need to organise, prioritise, choose and synthesize the important questions that any commission brings.
If we move fast to the next step, or we haven't gathered all data carefully enough, that's the length of the equation we might get.

-If we gather data carefully and don't hesitate, that's actually the complexity of our endeavour. As complex as it is, if the priorities are clearly set, the next steps are not a complicated mental process.

LITTLE PATHS (Case studies):

  • The maison Prouvé in Nancy (case study #8). To plan.

Link to the full thesis document on ISSUU:
VOLUME 1: http://issuu.com/aixopluc.net/docs/la_maison_prouv___david_tapias_vol1/1
VOLUME 2: http://issuu.com/aixopluc.net/docs/la_maison_prouv___david_tapias_vol2/1
ANNEX: http://issuu.com/aixopluc.net/docs/la_maison_prouv___annexes_david_tap/0

EXCURSIONS (Little exercises for young builders while on a journey):

  • Make a clear and synthetic plan that will help you reach this goal (use only diagrams or ideograms).


  • About the big differences and subtile relations between creating and planning:

    Alejandro G. Iñárritu on making films and creation:
    "For me, the creative process has always been torture. I’m very much a perfectionist. And when you demand perfection, it’s really difficult to live up to your own standards. My inner voice is always telling me that I could have done it better. Luckily, I’m now much more conscious of the mechanism, and I don’t take myself as seriously.”

    “When I turned 50, I started to look at my priorities in life, and I realized that some things were great, others not so great, and there were elements that were lacking. Then, I reflected on the mechanics of my own perception. It was very interesting to take account not only of what that I’ve learned, but also of how the ego works. In my case, in the creative process, my own ego has always been a grand inquisitor, a tyrant that constantly tests me. Sometimes, when I’m working on something, I’ll tell myself that it’s wonderful, that I’m a genius. Then, 20 minutes later, I feel like an idiot, and I tell myself I’m stupid and what I’m doing is worthless, that nobody will like it. My process is pretty bipolar, and so, I came to the conclusion that the ego is a tyrant.”
“This is a film about the insecurities that plague artists. The voice of Birdman articulates the anxieties of Michael Keaton’s character. Do you have a Birdman of your own?”
Iñárritu: “Yeah, absolutely. A vulture, I would say!” [Laughs]
Mears: “Has he ever talked you out of anything you wanted to do?”

Iñárritu: “Yeah. You know, in the creative process I think every human being is confronted with doubts and contradictions and flaws . . . and that’s part of it. That’s the deal of it. That’s the complexity of it.“Because it’s very contradictory and that’s the way it should be, I guess — to move two steps forward and one back. And so it’s a torturous process, sometimes more for some than others, but no matter who you are you have to have that."

Iñárritu comments on the personal meaning of filmmaking:“All the themes that the film navigates are themes that are really close to me, personally… It’s nothing I observe intellectually or detached from — I’m part of that discussion. I’m part of the problem, maybe. But I think that’s why it’s such an important and incredible journey for me, to be able to exorcise many of those thoughts that I have, through this story and these characters, because I empathize with all of them!”
From Interview: Alejandro G. Iñárritu by Steven Mears, Film Comment.

In another article, Iñárritu commented that “Birdman” was a film “that took a lot of courage to make. I knew that I was challenging the conventions, and I knew that sometimes that can come with a high cost to many people – and that’s why people were scared to make it. But I think if we don’t challenge conventions and we are not brave in that sense, then we will be stuck in cinema.”
Iñárritu: “My personal creative process has always been very torturous, because I try to be a perfectionist. That’s the way the ego works — it’s extraordinarily demanding; it’s a dictator; and it can push you to bring out the best in yourself. But at the same time it’s relentless and never will be satisfied and always will find ways to crack you,” Iñarritu says in an interview during the recent New York Film Festival, where “Birdman (or The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)” was the closing-night selection. “I think every human being can relate to seeking out validation.”
“There’s a voice that we all have that judges us and punishes us,” Iñárritu said. “The voice that I hear especially during the creative process, that is full of doubts and is never satisfied. Perfection can always drive you crazy. I can be very cruel with myself sometimes. The ego works in a very tyrannical, data ship mode.”