Christopher Alexander Quotes

christopher alexander quotes



I believe that all centers that appear in space - whether they originate in biology, in physical forces, in pure geometry, in color - are alike simply in that they all animate space. It is this animated space that has its functional effect upon the world, that determines the way things work, that governs the presence of harmony and life.


But in practice master plans fail - because they create totalitarian order, not organic order. They are too rigid; they cannot easily adapt to the natural and unpredictable changes that inevitably arise in the life of a community.


In short, no pattern is an isolated entity. Each pattern can exist in the world only to the extent that is supported by other patterns: the larger patterns in which it is embedded, the patterns of the same size that surround it, and the smaller patterns which are embedded in it.


Nowadays, the process of growth and development almost never seems to manage to create this subtle balance between the importance of the individual parts, and the coherence of the environment as a whole. One or the other always dominates.


We define organic order as the kind of order that is achieved when there is a perfect balance between the needs of the parts, and the needs of the whole.


This is a fundamental view of the world. It says that when you build a thing you cannot merely build that thing in isolation, but must repair the world around it, and within it, so that the larger world at that one place becomes more coherent, and more whole; and the thing which you make takes its place in the web of nature, as you make it.


To seek the timeless way we must first know the quality without a name. There is a central quality which is the root criterion of life and spirit in a man, a town, a building, or a wilderness. This quality is objective and precise, but it cannot be named.


It is not possible to make great buildings, or great towns, beautiful places, places where you feel yourself, places where you feel alive, except by following 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.


There are some geologists involved with prospecting for oil and other hidden resources who can pick up a rock and say, 'Yes, there's oil under there.' A geologist who has been studying those kinds of rocks for 10 or 20 years is able to make that pronouncement.


There is one timeless way of building. It is a thousand years old, and the same today as it has ever 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.


A building or a town will only be alive to the extent that it is governed in a timeless way. It is a process which brings order out of nothing but ourselves; it cannot be attained, but it will happen of its own accord, if we will only let it.


We are searching for some kind of harmony between two intangibles: a form which we have not yet designed and a context which we cannot properly describe.


Speaking as a builder, if you start something, you must have a vision of the thing which arises from your instinct about preserving and enhancing what is there... If you're working correctly, the feeling doesn't wander about.


From a sequence of these individual patterns, whole buildings with the character of nature will form themselves within your thoughts, as easily as sentences.


Images in the 20th century had a unique power where image became divorced from reality, and often more important than reality... Buildings were judged - at least by members of our own profession - more by the way they looked in magazines than by the satisfaction people felt when using them.


In an organic environment, every place is unique, and the different places also cooperate, with no parts left over, to create a global whole - a whole which can be identified by everyone who is part of it.


Speaking as a builder, if you start something, you must have a vision of the thing which arises from your instinct about preserving and enhancing what is there.


Everyone is aware that most of the built environment today lacks a natural order, an order which presents itself very strongly in places that were built centuries ago.


The more living patterns there are in a place - a room, a building, or a town - the more it comes to life as an entirety, the more it glows, the more it has that self-maintaining fire which is the quality without a name.


The structure of life I have described in buildings - the structure which I believe to be objective - is deeply and inextricably connected with the human person, and with the innermost nature of human feeling.




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