on 9 August 2009
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!
on 28 March 1997
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
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
feeling. If you are involved in architecture of any sort- buildings, software,
organization or even politics- this book is a must for you.
on 13 September 2010
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.
Christopher Alexander is one of the seminal thinkers in architecture, but his ideas are also relvant to software architecture, organisation design, customer experience and indeed science genrally. This is a highly challenging, brilliantly written, engaging explanation of his thinking. It stands with such classics as Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenaence as a book that could change your thinking on the nature of quality and the social process of design. I would say the book brings together aspects of Taoism, Whiteheadian physics, Drucker's concern for the customer, and his original thinking. He also confirms Stewart's introduction of value into systems thinking as an objective feature of the system. Entrancing