Here is acclaimed architect Christopher Alexander's four-volume masterwork: the result of 27 years of research and a lifetime of profoundly original thinking.
Alexander has advanced a new theory of architecture, matter, and organization, that has attracted thousands of readers and practical followers throughout the world. His grasp of the fundamental truths of traditional ways of building, and his understanding of what gives life and beauty and true functionality to towns and buildings, is put forth in a context that sheds light on the character of order in all phenomena. Taken even further, hundreds of examples are given to show how the theory has been put to use in his many projects around the world.
The four books of The Nature of Order redefine architecture for the 21st century as a field, as a profession, as practice and as social philosophy. Each of the books deals with one facet of the discipline. This worldview provides architecture with a new underpinning, describing procedures of planning, design, and building, as well as attitudes to style, to the shapes of buildings, and to the forms of urbanization and construction. Here is an entirely new way of thinking about the world. As one writer has expressed it, "The books provide the language for the construction and transition to a new kind of society, rooted in the nature of human beings."
The four books, each one an essay on the topic of living structure, are connected and interdependent. Each sheds light on one facet of living structure: first, the definition; second, the process of generating living structure; third, the practical vision of an architecture guided by the concept of living structure; and fourth, the cosmological underpinnings and implications brought into being by the idea of living structure.
The books offer a view of a human-centered universe, a view of order, in which the soul, or human feeling and the soul, play a central role. Here, experiments are not only conceivable in the abstract Cartesian mode, but a new class of experiments relying on human feeling as a form of measurement, show us definitively the foundation of all architecture as something which resides in human beings. Whether this "something," which is demonstrated and discussed throughout the four books, is to be regarded as a new entity underlying matter, or what used to be called the "soul," is left for the reader to decide.
Taken as a whole the four books create a sweeping new conception of the nature of things which is both objective and structural (hence part of science)—and also personal (in that it shows how and why things have the power to touch the human heart). A step has been taken, through which these two domains—the domain of geometrical structure and the feeling it creates—kept separate during four centuries of scientific thought, have finally been united.
The four volumes can be read separately, independently, and in any order. However, it is together as a whole that they have their greatest impact. For each book explores comprehensively different aspects of the coherence of our universe, and brings us at last to being at one with it.
These concepts reach far beyond the field of architecture. Scholars and practitioners in many fields are finding the relevance of these ideas to their own areas of study and practice—physics, biology, philosophy, cosmology, anthropology, computer science, and religious studies, to name a few.
“Five hundred years is a long time, and I don't expect many of the people I interview will be known in the year 2500. Christopher Alexander may be an exception.—David Creelman, Author, Interviewer and Editor, HR Magazine”
“Alexander's genetic scripts are likely to…play a role so fundamental in the future, that their widespread use cannot even be imagined today. This will change the world as effectively as the advent of printing changed the world…—Doug Carlston, Silicon Valley Luminary, former President of Broderbund”
“After the publication of this new work, our civilization has to seriously question why it has ignored the Pattern Language for so long, and to face the blame for the damage that it has done to our cities, neighborhoods, buildings, and psyche by doing so.—Nikos Salingaros”
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