on 6 June 2005
I still haven't finished volume 1. I am savouring it. Actually I want to give up my job so I can concentrate on it properly. It is thrilling: cleverly written so that it makes you feel smarter than you are; clever repetition so that while you may feel you understood it the first time, you might really understand it by the end; perfectly laid out with every illustration made to count; wonderfully rude about some modern buildings (I love modern buildings but he is so right on the ones he castigates). I got it because I adored the pattern language. I want to build a house that incorporates these ideas but I think I need to wait a few years until I really have grasped it properly.
Anyone interested in buildings, the environment, culture, life, should read these books. I can't believe he isn't better known and treasured for the genius he is and the brilliant ideas he conveys so well.
on 26 February 2004
This is a very beautiful book. In content, form, layout, pictures, style. It would be possible to write a very lengthy review, but that is not necessary here. Alexander is known from his work on pattern languages in architecture, and indirectly from the spin-off into software engineering. The current book, the first of a series of 4, has been a long time in coming. That is noticable. The thoughts and ideas are matured and fine-tuned. It's an easy read, if not an easy understand. But it's thrilling to read, slowly.
The central ideas of the book are difficult to accept, but also difficult to deny. And Alexander makes the effort to really expose and explain them, calmly and thoroughly. No arrogance.
I compare this work to Stephen Wolfram and Frank Tipler, who have also created some monumental insights that don't quite fit in anywhere.
There are few books that I can recommend as highly as this one.