The Phenomenon of Life: Nature of Order, Book 1: An Essay on the Art of Building and the Nature of the Universe

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In Book One of this four-volume work, Alexander describes a scientific view of the world in which all space-matter has perceptible degrees of life, and establishes this understanding of living structures as an intellectual basis for a new architecture.

He identifies fifteen geometric properties which tend to accompany the presence of life in nature, and also in the buildings and cities we make. These properties are seen over and over in nature and in the cities and streets of the past, but they have almost disappeared in the impersonal developments and buildings of the last hundred years.

This book shows that living structures depend on features which make a close connection with the human self, and that only living structure has the capacity to support human well-being.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780972652919
  • Publisher: Taylor & Francis, Inc.
  • Publication date: 9/15/2004
  • Series: Nature of Order Series
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 746
  • Product dimensions: 6.80 (w) x 9.70 (h) x 0.05 (d)

Meet the Author

Christopher Alexander is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, architect, builder, and author of many books and technical papers. He is the winner of the first medal for research ever awarded by the American Institute of Architects, and after 40 years of teaching is Professor Emeritus at the University of California, Berkeley.
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Table of Contents

Book 1 The Phenomenon of Life
Prologue to Books 1-4
The Art of Building and the Nature of the Universe 1
Preface 5
Part 1
1. The Phenomenon of Life 27
2. Degrees of Life 63
3. Wholeness and the Theory of Centers 79
4. How Life Comes From Wholeness 109
5. Fifteen Fundamental Properties 143
6. The Fifteen Properties in Nature 243
Part 2
7. The Personal Nature of Order 299
8. The Mirror of the Self 313
9. Beyond Descartes: A New Form of Scientific Observation 351
10. The Impact of Living Structure on Human Life 371
11. The Awakening of Space 403
Conclusion 441
Appendices Mathematical Aspects of Wholeness and Living Structure 445
Book 2 The Process of Creating Life
Preface: On Process 1
Part 1 Structure-Preserving Transformations
1. The Principle of Unfolding Wholeness 15
2. Structure-Preserving Transformations 51
3. Structure-Preserving Transformations in Traditional Society 79
4. Structure-Destroying Transformations in Modern Society 101
5. Living Process in the Modern Era: Twentieth-Century Cases Where Living Process Did Occur 131
Part 2 Living Processes
6. Generated Structures 169
7. A Fundamental Differentiating Process 193
8. Step-by-Step Adaptation 217
9. Always Helping to Enhance the Whole 237
10. Always Making Centers 253
11. The Sequence of Unfolding 287
12. Every Part Unique 311
13. Patterns: Rules for Making Centers 329
14. Deep Feeling 357
15. Emergence of Formal Geometry 387
16. Form Language 415
17. Simplicity 439
Part 3 A New Paradigm for Process in Society
18. The Character of Process in Society 473
19. Massive Process Difficulties 489
20. The Spread of Living Processes Throughout Society 511
21. The Architect in the Third Millenium 531
Conclusion 541
Appendix An Example of a Living Process: Building a House 547
Book 3 A Vision of a Living World
Preface: The Fundamental Process Repeated Ten Million Times 1
Part 1
1. Our Belonging to the World 21
2. Our Belonging to the World: Part Two 39
Part 2
3. The Hulls of Public Space 65
4. The Form of Public Buildings 99
5. Production of Giant Projects 147
6. The Positive Pattern of Space and Volume in Three Dimensions on the Land 165
7. Positive Space in Structure and Materials 199
8. The Character of Gardens 239
Part 3
9. Forming a Collective Vision for a Neighborhood 267
10. Reconstruction of an Urban Neighborhood 291
11. High Density Housing 323
12. Further Dynamics of a Growing Neighborhood 343
Part 4
13. The Uniqueness of People's Individual Worlds 365
14. The Character of Rooms 405
Part 5
15. Construction Elements as Living Centers 439
16. All Building as Making 473
17. Active Invention of New Building Techniques 507
Part 6
18. Ornament as a Part of All Unfolding 543
19. Color Which Unfolds From the Configuration 577
Epilogue: The Morphology of Living Architecture Archetypal Form 601
Conclusion: The World Created and Transformed 637
Book 4 The Luminous Ground
Preface: Towards a New Conception of the Nature of Matter 1
Part 1
1. Our Present Picture of the Universe 11
2. Clues From the History of Art 29
3. The Existence of an "I" 49
4. The Ten Thousand Beings 73
5. The Practical Matter of Forging a Living Center 111
Mid-Book Appendix: Recapitulation of the Argument 135
Part 2
6. The Blazing One 145
7. Color and Inner Light 157
8. The Goal of Tears 241
9. Making Wholeness Heals the Maker 261
10. Pleasing Yourself 271
11. The Face of God 301
Conclusion to the Four Books
A Modified Picture of the Universe 317
Epilogue: Empirical Certainty and Enduring Doubt 339
Acknowledgements 347
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