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The Process of Creating Life: Nature of Order, Book 2: An Essay on the Art of Building and the Nature of the Universe (The Nature of Order)(Flexible) Hardcover – January 26, 2006
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PART A. REVIEW FOR ARCHITECTS.
Contemporary architecture is increasingly grounded in science and mathematics. Architectural discourse has shifted radically from the sometimes disorienting Derridean deconstruction, to engaging scientific terms such as fractals, chaos, complexity, nonlinearity, and evolving systems. That's where the architectural action is -- at least for cutting-edge architects and thinkers -- and every practicing architect and student needs to become conversant with these terms and know what they mean. Unfortunately, the vast majority of architecture faculty are unprepared to explain them to students, not having had a scientific education themselves.
Here is an architecture book by an architect/scientist, just in time to help architects in the new millennium. Alexander discusses many of the scientific terms arising in cutting-edge architecture, and explains them to those who don't have scientific training or advanced mathematical knowledge. We find discussions of the evolution of forms; the importance of process in design; iteration; genetic algorithms; sequences of transformations; different levels of scale (i.e. fractals); etc. They are explained here by an architect who is also a scientist, because he wants to change the way architects think and build. Alexander is not merely popularizing other scientists' results and making them accessible to architects: he is in fact presenting new and original scientific work that ties many of these concepts together in a way that will be useful to architects.
Alexander spends many of the 636 pages of this book talking about PROCESS. He describes the sequence of steps leading to a built form, and how each step depends on all previous steps.Read more ›
I decided to start with Book 2 in the "Nature of Order" series as one Amazon reviewer described it as the most "practical" of the four. I can best describe my overall reactions as excitement regarding the implications of Alexander's ideas, and disappointment that the text is so dense and repetitive that I fear that only the most committed of readers will persevere. I don't mean to dissuade other readers at all, but merely to warn you that Alexander's motto seems to be "why use one word when you can use ten, and then repeat yourself ten times." I believe a rigorous editing of the book would render it far more digestible without losing any of its inspirational magic.
Alexander provides philosophical, logical and practical examples of concepts of wholeness and flow in design and how these lead to "living" end products, whether these products are buildings, interiors, works of art or simple household objects. I am currently using these ideas to renovate my home and I can now see why some rooms "work" and others don't and what I can do to improve them. There are many photos of "living design" scattered through the book, to reinforce the concepts. In addition, you don't need to be independently wealthy to apply the ideas - you just need to be willing to think about how you like to live, recognise what feels comfortable and "right" in your environment and experiment with small changes to see how they affect the "feel" of a room or space.Read more ›
In this volume, as in the others, Alexander presents his principles and gives examples both positive and negative, richly illustrated with hundreds of pictures, many in color. His examples are both historical, such as the evolution of St. Mark's Square in Venice over a period of a thousand years, and drawn from his own building experience, showing how he has gone about designing and building a structure in a way that maximizes its life.
Yes, it costs $75, but considering its aesthetic gravity and its 636 pages and all the illustrations, this is a bargain. I bought all four and am still benefitting by rereading them.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
In Book 1 (The Phenomenon of Life) of this series, architectural theorist and practitioner Christopher Alexander introduced a highly organic view of a natural process of... Read morePublished 18 months ago by L. King
I discovered Christopher Alexander around 1986 when I read A Pattern Language and The Timeless Way of Building. Read morePublished on September 25, 2012 by Joyce