Timeless Way of Buildingby Christopher Alexander
Pub. Date: 08/28/1979
Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
The theory of architecture implicit in our world today, Christopher Alexander believes, is bankrupt. More and more people are aware that something is deeply wrong. Yet the power of present-day ideas is so great that many feel uncomfortable, even afraid, to say openly that they dislike what is happening, because they are afraid to seem foolish, afraid perhaps that
The theory of architecture implicit in our world today, Christopher Alexander believes, is bankrupt. More and more people are aware that something is deeply wrong. Yet the power of present-day ideas is so great that many feel uncomfortable, even afraid, to say openly that they dislike what is happening, because they are afraid to seem foolish, afraid perhaps that they will be laughed at.
Now, at last, there is a coherent theory which describes in modern terms an architecture as ancient as human society itself.
The Timeless Way of Building is the introductory volume in the Center for Environmental Structure series, Christopher Alexander presents in it a new theory of architecture, building, and planning which has at its core that age-old process by which the people of a society have always pulled the order of their world from their own being.
Alexander writes, "There is one timeless way of building. It is thousands of years old, and the same today as it has always been. The great traditional buildings of the past, the villages and tents and temples in which man feels at home, have always been made by people who were very close to the center of this way. And as you will see, this way will lead anyone who looks for it to buildings which are themselves as ancient in their form as the trees and hills, and as our faces are."
Table of ContentsThe Timeless Way
- The timeless way ..... 3
- The quality without a name ..... 19
- Being alive ..... 41
- Patterns of events ..... 55
- Patterns of space ..... 75
- Patterns which are alive ..... 101
- The multiplicity of living patterns ..... 123
- The quality itself ..... 137
- The flower and the seed ..... 157
- Our pattern languages ..... 167
- Our pattern languages (cont.) ..... 193
- The creative power of language ..... 211
- The breakdown of language ..... 225
- Patterns which can be shared ..... 243
- The realioty of patterns ..... 277
- The structure of a language ..... 305
- The evolution of a common language for a town ..... 325
- The genetic power of language ..... 351
- Differentiating space ..... 365
- One pattern at a time ..... 385
- Shaping one building ..... 403
- Shaping a group of buildings ..... 427
- The process of construction ..... 455
- The process of repair ..... 475
- The slow emergence of a town ..... 493
- Its ageless character ..... 511
The Kernel of the Way
- The kernel of the way ..... 531
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I am full of admiration for Christopher Alexander's writings, work and choice of life path. That path is architecture. Which sounds like a career, not a life path. Yet it is clear from the opening pages of this early book (from 1979) that the writer is searching for the path, the secret, the ingredient of beauty. His question is simple. What is it that makes something beautiful? His focus is buildings, room, arrangements, layouts of villages and towns. And critically he asks that question while dismissing immediately the pat answer that's it's all a matter of taste. It's not a matter of taste. He is very sure of that. He writes that there is a timeless way of building. No one has been able to define it. Alexander sets out to try. The style is both esthetic and philosophical. This is therefore not a technical book about architecture, but rather a meandering exploration that circles around the deepest questions of human life, seen from the standpoint of a builder. The many black-and-white photos illustrate the points he is making. One concept he is engaging as a language term is 'pattern.' There are certain patters in buildings. When the pattern works the building is pleasing. Otherwise it isn't. These patterns are not architectural design plans, they are instead organic, instinctive, feeling-based relationships. This is one of those books that attempt to give evidence of what we all can recognize when we see it. Beauty, harmony, peace. Yet we cannot analyze it, nor forcefully reproduce it. By Stephen Muires, author of 'Ordained - a novel'
This book is a true classic and will be referred to for hundreds of years to come. The book is about the patterns that make a space occupied by humans come alive and grow, or wither and die. It is fundamentally about paying close attention to the world you live on a range of scales. It is about how you can not separate yourself from the world you live in. It is about living sanely with other humans.