“Strangely, I believe the beauty of the world is almost more touching, more profound, if the harsh, ugly world of ours, is married, mixed, with the more perfect world in which the beings are fully living … But it is necessary for us to cross that bridge …
It does not come easy. But when it happens a living thing is made. And this comes, above all, from the impulse we call ornament: to fill a living space. Above all, then, a building is an ornament … the word ‘ornament’ is a profound comment on the contribution which something makes to the world, through its order and relation to the world.
… The environment is good, or bad, according to the degree that its thousands and thousands of centers are pictures of the self, what we might call ‘beings‘.
cost, family structure,wall construction, structural efficiency, ecology, solar energy. wind, water … Function must be at the core of everything. But what governs the life of the buildings is not to be found in these matters, alone, but in a single question, always built on the foundations of these matter, but elevating them to a different level of understanding: To what extent is every building, and the whole building, and every garden, and the whole street, all made of beings?
… I well know that it may take time for you to appreciate the fact behind the thought. You need to test it experimentally, as I have done, for years. You need to examine each piece of the environment you come across from this point of view. And you need time to weight its unlikely character against the fact that, nevertheless, it seems to be true.
To do this, you need to become clear in your own mind about the distinction between centers which are more like beings – more genuinely related to yourself – and those which are less so. That in itself takes practice, and discussion, and honesty about your inner feeling. If you try to develop that ability, slowly, by observation and experiment, you will then be in a position to conduct the larger experiment of trying to judge the difference between places which have more life and places which have less life. You will then gradually become persuaded, I believe … that this one criterion, absurdly simple though it seems to be, does correlate accurately with the presence of live in the environment.”
Christopher Alexander – The Nature of Order – Book 4: The Luminous Ground