The Timeless Way of Building
About the book
The theory of architecture implicit in our world today, Christopher Alexander believes, is bankrupt. More and more people are aware that something is deeply wrong. Yet the power of present-day ideas is so great that many feel uncomfortable, even afraid, to say openly that they dislike what is happening, because they are afraid to seem foolish, afraid perhaps that they will be laughed at. Now, at last, there is a coherent theory which describes in modern terms an architecture as ancient as human society itself. The Timeless Way of Building is the introductory volume in the Center for Environmental Structure series, Christopher Alexander presents in it a new theory of architecture, building, and planning which has at its core that age-old process by which the people of a society have always pulled the order of their world from their own being. Alexander writes, "There is one timeless way of building. It is thousands of years old, and the same today as it has always been. The great traditional buildings of the past, the villages and tents and temples in which man feels at home, have always been made by people who were very close to the center of this way. And as you will see, this way will lead anyone who looks for it to buildings which are themselves as ancient in their form as the trees and hills, and as our faces are."
This book is more a philosophy of life than an architectural commentary. David Abbott gave it to me some years ago and I constantly refer to it. It is full of wisdom and inspiration, written in Alexander's beautiful prose style ... anyone who cares about the spaces we inhabit should read it. * Mike Dempsey, founding partner of CDT Design, Creative Review *
Christopher Alexander Biography
Christopher Wolfgang John Alexander (4 October 1936 – 17 March 2022) was an Austrian-born British-American architect and design theorist. He was an emeritus professor at the University of California, Berkeley. His theories about the nature of human-centered design have affected fields beyond architecture, including urban design, software, and sociology. Alexander designed and personally built over 100 buildings, both as an architect and a general contractor.In software, Alexander is regarded as the father of the pattern language movement. The first wiki—the technology behind Wikipedia—led directly from Alexander's work, according to its creator, Ward Cunningham. Alexander's work has also influenced the development of agile software development.In architecture, Alexander's work is used by a number of different contemporary architectural communities of practice, including the New Urbanist movement, to help people to reclaim control over their own built environment. However, Alexander was controversial among some mainstream architects and critics, in part because his work was often harshly critical of much of contemporary architectural theory and practice.Alexander is known for many books on the design and building process, including Notes on the Synthesis of Form, A City is Not a Tree (first published as a paper and re-published in book form in 2015), The Timeless Way of Building, A New Theory of Urban Design, and The Oregon Experiment. More recently he published the four-volume The Nature of Order: An Essay on the Art of Building and the Nature of the Universe, about his newer theories of "morphogenetic" processes, and The Battle for the Life and Beauty of the Earth, about the implementation of his theories in a large building project in Japan. All his works are developed or accumulated from his previous works, so his works should be read as a whole rather than fragmented pieces. His life's work or the best of his works is The Nature of Order on which he spent about 30 years, and the very first version of The Nature of Order was done in 1981, one year before a famous debate with Peter Eisenman at Harvard. Alexander is perhaps best known for his 1977 book A Pattern Language, a perennial seller some four decades after publication. Reasoning that users are more sensitive to their needs than any architect could be, he produced and validated (in collaboration with his students Sara Ishikawa, Murray Silverstein, Max Jacobson, Ingrid King, and Shlomo Angel) a "pattern language" to empower anyone to design and build at any scale.
Personal lifeAlexander was born in Vienna, Austria. His father, Ferdinand Johann Alfred Alexander, was Catholic and his mother, Lilly Edith Elizabeth (Deutsch) Alexander was Jewish. As a young child Alexander emigrated in fall 1938 with his parents from Austria to England, when his parents were forced to flee the Nazi regime. (They worked as German language teachers.) He spent much of his childhood in Chichester and O ... Read full biography
|Publisher:||Oxford University Press Inc|
|Languages:||| English ||
|Illustrations:||plates and text-figures throughout|
|Publication date:||April 10, 1980|
|First Publication Date:||None|
|Publication City/Country:||New York, United States|