a walking architecture unschool

4. Cartography: To forelive

4. To forelive. Not to look but to live. (PHYSIOLOGY SET OUT).

-The next three steps -to forelive, to foresee, to forebuild- develop and organise in time all the key proposals in our plan. However, they are not consecutive steps, but rather work as a dynamic relation between the three. In these steps, being a builder is about making choices: how it will be lived, how the whole construction process will be organized, how it will be materialized. Now is when we turn restrictions into possibilities. To be a builder is to make a plan that responds to the particular needs of every commission in a positive, efficient, concrete, brave and graceful way.

-The materialization of the project in our mind is fragmentary, although we must tend to think about all at once. Every decision implies modifications in the diverse fields that the project must take into account. We keep the decisions that help each field solve as much needs as possible. We know we're in a fruitful track when all decisions seem to fit naturally in the overall plan.

-Following this plan, we start foreliving places that will accomodate the needs and uses of people, some feelings people might have in them -how the future place will be dwelt-, and which is the kind of human experience we're purposing. This is when our choice as builders becomes more important. A big amount of empathy and generosity is needed. We make places for others, not for us.

-We don’t think too much about how a construction will look like. Instead, we focus on how will it be lived, how it will work, how it will adapt to the climate, how it can be built, dismantled and easily tranformed.

-As we also know for more than a hundred years now, form is just a consequence of all this design process. Architecture has no sytle.

-Architecture cannot be photographed or written. It cannot be seen. It can only be lived.

-What’s important is not the object but the feeling it causes. To feel at home in the most places possible.

-Empathy, imagination and knowledge on the complex principles that make a place inhabitable, will allow us to test how a design will be lived. To mentally move in space and time to this future place. To live before living.

LITTLE PATHS (Case studies):

  • The maison Prouvé in Nancy (case study #9). To forelive.

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

  • Forelive your project. Anticipate how people could live in it, open possibilities, think about all important ordinary and extraordinary moments.


  • These are the two only drawings that, according to Pyhillis Lambert, Mies did during the Seagram's building whole design process.
Taken from 'Building Seagram', Phyllis Lambert, Yale University Press.

Taken from 'Building Seagram', Phyllis Lambert, Yale University Press.

Taken from 'Building Seagram', Phyllis Lambert, Yale University Press.

Taken from 'Building Seagram', Phyllis Lambert, Yale University Press.