- Series: Center for Environmental Structure (Book 1)
- Hardcover: 552 pages
- Publisher: Oxford University Press (1979)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0195024028
- ISBN-13: 978-0195024029
- Product Dimensions: 8 x 1.2 x 5.7 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars See all reviews (58 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #37,601 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Timeless Way of Building
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"Excellent text for architectural theory and design--a must for design students."--Brad Grant, California Polytechnic State University
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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Top Customer Reviews
if you're an aspiring software architect, you would do the community around you a big favor by perpetuating this book - the more of us that speak and understand the "pattern languages" that pervade this book (and his other related works), the more we can build and aspire to build really really awesome stuff.
Alexander's method frees architecture from the prison of professional jargon and technical terminology. Buildings should be designed with the use in mind. What events, human or non-human will most often occur? Design should encourage the fullest expression of these events.
Chapters 1-10 outline Alexander's whole philosophy of language, when perhaps it would have been more effective to give more specific examples. But the examples do come, good ones too.
One he gives is that of a fountain. Should a fountain within a secluded garden have a trickle of water that spreads outward in four directions from the center? Or would a gushing flow be better? Thinking about intellectually likely tells us nothing, but anyone who experiences the two will instantly prefer the gush to the trickle. It is the feeling of freedom and aliveness. All architecture should seek to promote such a quality in the events that recur there.
Another good example comes on page 300 when he talks about building houses in Peru. He was criticized for wanting to put in an "Entrance Transition" room that would allow guests to experience a change in surroundings from the formal street to the comfort of a home. Most considered this room totally unnecessary, with an attitude that "people should be beyond such trivialities." A good architect moves beyond values when designing. It is authentic feelings that are important, that must be taken into account when designing, not our opinions about how things ought to be.
A complete pattern language for a building is one that recognizes all the authentic feelings that recur in and around the building. These smaller components make up the larger components that guide the decisions of the architect. Alexander's vision is insightful and well worth the look.
Don't worry, you will not be transported back to the 'traditional' nor will you be constrained by a 'formula' for there is still endless possibility for design working with the principles that Alexander reminds us of.
Read this book to take yourself back to what is really important, what really harmonises with the human spirit and with nature, and re-acquaint yourself with reality.
Once you have enjoyed this volume Alexander offers a number of others which will compliment and enhance your introduction.
Houses, towns, entire cities, will be gentler on the spirit if these books are read by all who have the authority to approve and plan building works.