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The Timeless Way of Building (Center for Environmental Structure Series) Hardcover – 10 Apr 1980

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 568 pages
  • Publisher: OUP USA (10 April 1980)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0195024028
  • ISBN-13: 978-0195024029
  • Product Dimensions: 20.3 x 3.2 x 14.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 38,136 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Review

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)

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.

Inside This Book

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First Sentence
It is a process through which the order of a building or a town grows out directly from the inner nature of the people, and the animals, and plants, and matter which are in it. Read the first page
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By E. Lander on 9 Aug. 2009
Format: Hardcover
Perhaps it should have been called 'Zen and the Art of Building'.... I hadn't come across this book before, although I think it may be required reading for architecture students. Having come from a design background myself I found it interesting.

It's long winded and often waxes lyrical, but the basic premise states that buildings are not for enhancing the egos of architects, but instead, they are for the people who use and live in them. So far, so good. Alexander also reveals how the patterns of activities carried out within a building are either helped or hindered by it's architecture, again, fairly predictable. He points out how certain buildings feel 'alive' while others are 'dead' spaces.

The book goes on to explain how to achieve what Alexander calls 'the quality with no name' which brings a building, even a whole city, to life. It's a very organic process, achieved without the detailed plans normally involved in construction. I love the idea of building in this way, but I'm not surprised it's not widely practiced. How long will the project take? How do you budget? Maybe he covers all that in one of his other books!
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By John Melvin on 20 Jan. 2009
Format: Hardcover
On starting this book it did seem a bit `alternative' and pseudomystical and you begin to think it was a lot of money to spend on a book. As you get used to the style and you absorb the message it becomes a very powerful force. The idea that people built before architects told them how to and that this knowledge has become lost is evident as you read. But this simple philosophy could apply to so many other areas of life where experts have taken away our knowledge. A must for any self builder or thinker - brilliant.
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55 of 60 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 28 Mar. 1997
Format: Hardcover
It is amazing how a book that propounds revolutionary
architectural theory has stirred up the computer software
industry. This deeply philosophical book, which is
very practical and rigorous, lays the foundation for
developing "pattern languages".

The book is all about a common language that can be shared to build
artifacts that are alive. It stresses that a design should always
concentrate on the "whole" and not on assembling parts. It also
shows the power of distributed processing, if you will, as against
centralized processing.

All the great principles have one thing in common. They are
simple. And, after one realizes such a simple but profound principle, one
can not stop wondering how one survived without it's knowledge. This book gives
that
feeling. If you are involved in architecture of any sort- buildings, software,
organization or even politics- this book is a must for you.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Carlo Marcoli on 13 Sept. 2010
Format: Hardcover
I found in this book more than I expected. You can feel the author's passion for this subject: he is not talking just about architecture, he is explaining the way in which he sees the world. Writing about how to design the places where we live (from a small garden to something as complex as a town) he actually tackles system theory. For this reason his thinking has been widely applied in software design. However this book is profoundly different from many boring publications documenting software patterns. For Alexander patterns are not just recurring solutions to recurring problems, they are something deeper a more dynamic: a way to look at the world and learn lessons that we would have never been able to grasp just by logical deduction.
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