Synopses & Reviews
The processes of nature can make an infinite number of human faces, each one unique, each one beautiful. The same is true for daffodils, streams, and stars. But man-made creations-especially the towns and buildings of the 20th century-have only occasionally been really good, more often mediocre, and in the last 50 years have very often been deadly. What is the reason for the difference?
In Book 2, Alexander explains in detail the kinds of process that are capable of generating living structure. The unfolding of living structure in natural systems is compared to the unfolding of buildings and town plans in traditional society, and then contrasted with present-day building processes.
The comparison reveals deep and shocking problems which pervade the present day planning and construction of buildings. Pervasive changes are needed to create a world in which living process-and hence living structure-are possible; these are changes which are ultimately attainable only through a transformation of society.
It is the use of sequences which makes it possible for each building to become unique, exactly fitted to its context, and harmonious. And it is also this use of sequences which makes it possible for people to participate effectively in the layout of their own buildings and communities.
"This will change the world as effectively as the advent of printing changed the world . . ."-Doug Carlston, Silicon Valley luminary and former president of Broderbund
Christopher Alexanderis 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.
The Process of Creating Life
Scientifically, this is perhaps the most exciting of the four books. How do beautiful creations come into being? Nature can make an infinite number of human faces, each one unique, each one beautiful. The same is true for daffodils, streams, and stars. But man-made creations, especially the towns and buildings of the 20th century, have only occasionally been really good, more often mediocre, and in the last 50 years have most often been deadly.
What is the reason for the difference? It hinges on the deep nature of the processes we use.
Alexander puts forward a fully developed theory of living process. He defines conditions for a process to be living: that is, capable of generating living structure. He shows how such processes work, and how they may be created. At the core of the new theory is the theory of structure-preserving transformations. This concept, new in scientific thinking, is based on the concept of wholeness defined in Book 1: A structure-preserving transformation is one which preserves, extends, and enhances the wholenes of a system.
Christopher Alexander's masterwork, the result of 27 years of research, considers three vital perspectives: a scientific perspective; a perspective based on beauty and grace; a commonsense perspective based on our intuitions and everyday life.
About the Author
Christopher Alexander, Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, winner of the first medal for research ever awarded by the American Institute of Architects, is an architect, scientist and builder who has built in many countries. After 38 years in the Department of Architecture at the University of California, Berkeley, he is now Emeritus Professor at the University, Director of the Center for Environmental Structure, and Chairman of the Board at PatternLanguage.com.