Transfer Global Architecture Platform, is a new digital editorial project based on the production and transmission of architectural knowledge with the aim of connecting contemporary ideas and practices to build a global architectural culture.

Learn more

Transfer is a nonprofit organization which welcomes private or institutional donations to support the production and distribution of original, independent and high-quality architectural knowledge, addressed to a creative global audience.

Learn more

Global Architecture Platform

Courtyard Geography

by Mathieu Lucas

My Parisian apartment overlooks a little courtyard, surrounded by high walls on all four sides. Home for 55 days, I got used to following the sun’s path, observing how the wind blows and the water flows along the façade to reach the vegetation, watching birds and insects ephemerally pass through the foliage. Day after day, every surface started to expand. The concrete became a large dry desert, the foliage turned into a dense shaded forest and the façades into high impassable cliffs. Following Marcovaldo’s paths exploring his urban environment (1), each part of this tiny courtyard started to resonate with a much larger geography. Through my motionless journey, the courtyard became a vast landscape, made of an infinity of smaller environments.

The constant interactions of humidity and temperature between air, buildings and vegetation creates many singular environments, or milieux (2). Each of them is a unique association in between architecture, nature and geographical forces to produce a series of interconnected climatic conditions. The revealing of the existing interactions at a micro scale invite us to rethink our cities at a broader scale, starting from its interstices and porosity where the paths of rainwater, the turbulence of the winds, the process of fertilization of the ground, and the seasonal variations of the air mass design our daily urban experience. Instead of designing our public spaces to ensure social distance, we might consider first the interconnections and interdependencies in between the urban fabric, the geography and the natural forces to overcome the dissociation in between grey and green, built and unbuilt. Perhaps herein lies the promise of a post-Covid society, an inclusive resilient society embracing singularities and solidarities through a new sensitivity to our immediate surroundings.


Calvino, Italo, Marcovaldo ou les saisons en ville (Paris: Gallimard, 2017). Originally published as Marcovaldo ovvero Le stagioni in città (Einaudi, 1963)


Following the definition of Chris Younès and Benoît Goetz in “Mille milieux, éléments pour une introduction à l’architecture des milieux”, Le Portique 25. L’architecture des milieux, February 2011

31.Aug.2020 1303 views
Mathieu Lucas Mathieu Lucas

Mathieu Lucas is an Architect and a Landscape Architect. He graduated from the École Nationale Supérieure d’Architecture de Versailles and worked several years for landscape architecture offices in Brussels and Paris on international territorial and public spaces design projects. He is a fellow at the Villa Medici – Academia di Francia in Rome in 2018-2019, focusing on the interactions in between landscapes and the atmosphere.
Studio Mathieu Lucas is created in 2019 in Paris. Every project aims to explore the representation of the living, natural cycles and climatic processes to develop new forms of cohabitation between humans and their environment. The Studio often collaborates with artists, philosophs and scientists on various projects, from gardens to large territorial studies.

The stopped present could be a good place from which to look at the near past and, most of all, the future.

TRANSFER NEXT aims to invite shared reflections on the new scene that coronavirus will probably usher in.

Would you like to support the production of original, independent architectural content?

We are very grateful for your support!