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The Production of Houses (Center for Environmental Structure Series) Hardcover – June 13, 1985
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From the Back Cover
The book centers around a group of buildings which Alexander and his associates built in 1976 in northern Mexico. Each house is different and the book explains how each family helped to lay out and construct its own home according to the family's own needs and in the framework of the pattern language. The Production of Houses describes seven principles which apply to any system of production in any part of the world for housing of any cost in any climate or culture or at any density.
About the Author
Christopher Alexander is a builder, craftsman, general contractor, architect, painter, and teacher. He taught from 1963 to 2002 as Professor of Architecture at the University of California, Berkeley, and is now Professor Emeritus. He has spent his life running construction projects, experimenting with new building methods and materials, and crafting carefully articulated buildings--all to advance the idea that people can build environments in which they will thrive.
Acting on his deeply-held conviction that, as a society, we must recover the means by which we can build and maintain healthy living environments, he has lived and worked in many cultures, and built buildings all over the world.
Making neighborhoods, building-complexes, building, balustrades, columns, ceilings, windows, tiles, ornaments, models and mockups, paintings, furniture, castings and carvings--all this has been his passion, and is the cornerstone from which his paradigm-changing principles have been derived.
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I believe that Christopher Alexander is dead on in saying that the system he created is a better way to build homes, indeed a far superior way to do so. However, I can't say the official reaction to this project is encouraging. After the first five homes were built, the bureaucrats came in, stopped the project and sent our intrepid hero packing. You can tell from the ending of the book that this reaction spooked Alexander, and I can't blame him. A revolutionary system of construction, he says, antagonizes pretty much everyone. But it will triumph, he proclaims!
It looks like it didn't, but I see increasing awareness of his ideas in more recent architectural books, so hopefully all is not lost. Despite the ultimate outcome, this is a brilliant book from an inspired thinker. You probably want to start with The Timeless Way of Building and A Pattern Language before tackling this one, but if you liked his earlier works, this is an excellent, real-world counterpoint.