a walking architecture unschool

little maps

A Walking Architecture Unschool:

About a walking architecture unschool and its little maps:


-Have you heard of a new architecture unschool that is opening soon?

Although it is very old, it is on the verge of acquiring a self-conscience.

It is a traveling architecture unschool. It has no name yet. It has no building, no steady campus, no fancy libraries. It is not career oriented. It is not an institution and, one could say, it might even be taking part in deschooling society.

But whereas Ivan Illich was reflecting on the uslessness and dangers of schools, we  are looking for ways and places to learn that help everyone to live the best of oneself while helping and collaborating with its community -a territory and its people -learn by doing and do by learning.

-So then, what is it?

We’d rather think about how it is. It is always on the move, unseen but not hidden, unheard of but not silent. It has no form. It is shapeless. It is hard working and hard thinking for easier living, based on a will to improve, constant collaboration and empathy with others.

You might see it as a secret transnational research agency, with its proper undercover agents, struggling to help younger generations to innovate from the core of architecture’s discipline. But we’ve been told it is more of an ever-changing body of knowledge, constantly learning. Feeding from environmental intercourse. Searching and researching for low energy forms of life, and adaptive ways of living, using the wildest intuitions and the most precise scientific methods at the same time. Fighting for survival and dignity. Training their own self-criticism and ability to see, understand, manage and work with nature’s processes. Moving in uncharted territories, from campus to campsites.

This extensive human body is formed by builders who move as agile acrobats, patient and foreseeing trapezists, resilient one-man band, storytelling tramps and at ease technicians. Most of them don’t know each other. Their natural environment is not a class, a meeting room, a congress hall or the director’s office. It is rather the open fields, under a tree, on a hot as hell desert, in ramshackle barns, hidden orchards, camping sites [1], carpenter’s workshops [2], or just the road [3] and the speaking land. They walk a lot, travel lightly, take part in intense debates, with no teachers and no students, just learners who are willing to share their experience while posing new questions. Sometimes, though, one or two play the part of teachers and the others become students.

A few weeks ago, while sitting under a tree by a clean and well-organized construction site, we found a set of documents. They are hand drawn, a sort of comic. Little maps that some members of this wandering school drew, while debating diverse ways of learning how to make architecture [4]. A cartography not in Vladímir Arséniev’s ways [5] but rather in the guise of Lieutenant J.M.Wordie’s chart of the drift of Shackleton’s endurance [6].

This nomadic population of guest professors, fellows in residence and exiled minds, could gather once a year to share knowledge while setting camp in some of their temporary scholar residencies. They could build this camp with what’s at hand, feeding their communal spirit.

Just imagine what could happen if this spread knowledge was brought together in one place, for a few hours. 

An encampment where everybody would be learning to learn, while sharing diverse ways of thinking and making architecture. It would definitely be very different from any existing architecture school.

Think about a moment when everybody tried to share and explain in an honest and clear way, how they understand and make architecture.

For further questions, please contact info@aixopluc.net


[1)  www.thecampboards.com
[2] www.aixoplucs.net
[3] A road to Sophronia.
[4] www.littlemaps.net
[5] Visit http://archive.printculture.com/index.php?itemid=2461
[6]Visit http://www.loc.gov/item/2002624040/

-Why walking?

-Walking as a slow, step by step, but continuous experience, is the pace of living in, with and for a territory. It is a synchronic rhythm to a design process.
When going for a walk, you can get lost. You need to know your territory to make your way. You learn by observation, to consciously and unconsciously identify and understand what makes your path. Sometimes it is good to have a map to help you when you get confused.
Most of the time, you get lost not because of space, but because of time: a plan and construction process is so complex and sometimes the pace is so broken, that it is key to keep track of the way, to find a rhythm, and even remember why you took a certain decision and discarded some others.

Most designers experience that, in fact, it is while walking that fruitful ideas are born. Although it is very important to know how to sit down and concentrate on developing a design process, it is equally important to learn by walking, alone or with company.

-What is unschooling?

-Unschooling is an educational method and philosophy that advocates learner-chosen activities as a primary means for learning. Unschooling students learn through their natural life experiences including play, household responsibilities, personal interests and curiosity, internships and work experience, travel, books, elective classes, family, mentors, and social interaction. Unschooling encourages exploration of activities initiated by the children themselves, believing that the more personal learning is, the more meaningful, well-understood and therefore useful it is to the child. While courses may occasionally be taken, unschooling questions the usefulness of standard curricula, conventional grading methods, and other features of traditional schooling in the education of each unique child.

Sometimes these stays are short, only a few hours -dialogues-, a few days -seminars and workshops-, or even a few months or years -studios.

-What is an architecture unschool?

-Far from denying the importance of architectural learning institutions, we collaborate with them to find ways to become more agile, taking their self-critical attitude to a positive edge, through a diagnose of their potentialities as a community and a group of individuals. 

Sometimes these stays are short, only a few hours -dialogues-, a few days -seminars and workshops-, or even a few months or years -studios.