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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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Editorial Reviews

About 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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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 636 pages
  • Publisher: Center for Environmental Structure (January 26, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0972652922
  • ISBN-13: 978-0972652926
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 1.2 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #828,020 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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These are books to be read slowly, savored.
Joyce
It is not complete, and Alexander knows that, but I believe that the evolutionary biology community will get very excited about this idea.
Nikos A. Salingaros
One can make a strong case for Alexander's Nature of Order as one of the greatest advances in the entire history of aesthetics.
Reader

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

100 of 102 people found the following review helpful By Nikos A. Salingaros on October 31, 2003
Format: Hardcover
Review by Nikos A. Salingaros.
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.
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful By L. Mayger on April 1, 2005
Format: Hardcover
I originally only intended to read book one of this series because they are so expensive; however, after reading the first, and becoming interested in Alexander's ideas, I have committed to the entire series. There is a lot of food for thought in these books, from the idea that there is actually a universal consensus on what is beautiful when one looks at things on a fundamental level, to the concepts that we spend too much time in this society on ornamentation and rule making to the exclusion of building things that actually enhance life. Book 2 in this series goes in depth into the concept that things can only be built to enhance life and be truly beautiful and useful if they are built in a sequence of appropriate steps. Alexander is changing the way that I look at the world. This is not a book for someone who just wants to know how to decorate a pretty house.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Sally on January 3, 2007
Format: Hardcover
I first discovered Christopher Alexander's book "A Pattern Language" about eight years ago and it has been a treasured companion on my bedside table ever since. I would highly recommend it as an excellent introduction to the framework of design concepts proposed by Alexander in subsequent books.

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.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Reader on June 21, 2006
Format: Hardcover
One can make a strong case for Alexander's Nature of Order as one of the greatest advances in the entire history of aesthetics. Book 1 treats the expression of Life in art in its static form. Book 2 examines the dynamic process of life creation, in real life and in architecture. I can't do better than second what Professor Salingaros says below. He is a major figure in architectural aesthetics himself -- google him on the web and you will see.

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.
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Frequently Bought Together

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) + The Nature of Order: An Essay on the Art of Building and the Nature of the Universe, Book 1 - The Phenomenon of Life (Center for Environmental Structure, Vol. 9) + The Nature of Order: An Essay on the Art of Building and the Nature of the Universe, Book 3 - A Vision of a Living World (Center for Environmental Structure, Vol. 11)
Price for all three: $209.61

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