“Dreaming after all, is a form of planning.”

Tag Archives: Christopher Alexander

Roughness: Christopher’s Corners

n

Christopher Alexander, in The Nature of Order, frequently references ancient Turkish prayer carpets. I wasn’t, and still am not a fan of these artifacts, but as I was searching for an example to use in this post, I was surprised to find, that though there are many images online, finding one that is good was […]

Posted in Expanding, inside | Tagged | You are welcome to add your comment

Yoga incorporates felt experience

n

Again this reminded me of Alexander and unfoding wholeness – a process of making in which felt experience is constantly incorporated in guiding choices … and of Pirsig’s sitting on a hot stove. “Practice is action. In this, Yoga differs from – without exclding – other schools of philosophy and of belief that rely solely […]

Posted in Yoga, Yoga & Life | Also tagged , | You are welcome to add your comment

Relating with something higher

n

These words, inside me, resonated with Alexander’s Windows to the Ground “All artists I’ve known whose works surpass anything we’ve known before invariably ascribe the source to a higher force, whether they call it God or not. The work then becomes a object for our own contact with something higher. In the course of my […]

Posted in Yoga, Yoga & Life | Also tagged | You are welcome to add your comment

Harmony in Architecture

n

As part of my followup inquiry into Alexander’s work (after completing a reading of his work The Nature of Order) I came across this transcript of a debate between him and a supposedly (now) famous architect Peter Eisenman. I was looking forward to reading but was quickly disappointed because I could hardly follow Eisenman’s words […]

Posted in AltEco, Design, Intellect Run Amok, outside | Tagged | You are welcome to add your comment

Ryan Singer on Christopher Alexander Applied in Software User Experience Design

n

I have been thinking a lot about software as I’ve been reading Alexander’s work for the last year and I don’t know if the future will hold an opportunity for me to apply any of these ideas. So … it was sweet to discover that Ryan Singer made a connection between Alexander’s work and user […]

Posted in Design, outside, Tech Stuff | Tagged | You are welcome to add your comment

Christopher Alexander – OOPSLA Keynote 1996

n

Chritsopher Alexander talking to software people on the potential of software. I especially enjoyed the last part of the talk where he highlights the immense potential of software in reshaping our world AND his warning about how that potential may be compromised when software engineers become hired mercenaries and in doing placing their personal potential […]

Posted in AltEco, Design, Intake, outside, Tech Stuff | Tagged | You are welcome to add your comment

Christopher Alexander on Despair

n
Posted in inside | Tagged | You are welcome to add your comment

Christopher Alexander on Essential Awe

n

“… In this conception, value is not something merely grafted onto space, as a passenger might be who carries no weight and does no work. It is part of the same nearly mechanical picture of space that we have come to believe in, and respect and trust. Yet, at the same time, in a most […]

Posted in AltEco, Design, Expanding, inside, Intellect Run Amok, outside | Also tagged , , , | You are welcome to read 1 comment and to add yours

Christopher Alexander on an Extended Physics

n

“… In physics, the effort has always been to take the geometry of a material system and to derive from it, predictions about the dynamic behavior, forces, and causal interactions … which follow from a particular configuration. In art and building … Again we have geometry, but here we seek especially to derive from it, […]

Posted in AltEco, Design, Expanding, inside, outside | Also tagged , , | You are welcome to read 1 comment and to add yours

Christopher Alexander on A Gift from Art to Science

n

“What is, truly, the ultimate nature of matter? … I have expressed my conviction that architecture cannot be good so long as we try to to do it within a mechanical conception of matter … I have argued … that we must have a vision of the world in which life, as the foundation of […]

Posted in Design, Expanding, inside, outside | Also tagged | You are welcome to add your comment

Christopher Alexander on a Gift to God

n

This felt like a demanding excerpt to put together. “When the field of centers appears in something, its deep feeling appears and it is … spirit made actual, spirit made manifest … It is not an indication of God living behind all things, but it is actually God itself … As we understand this more, […]

Posted in Design, Expanding, inside, outside | Also tagged , , , | You are welcome to add your comment

Christopher Alexander on Never Truly Beautiful

n

“What kind of beauty could go so deep that a person would be afraid of creating it? … Working with architects, I have experienced it again and again. Many traditional shapes, especially the most profound shapes with deep and serious centers in them, for some reason trouble modern architects profoundly. Even when an architect does […]

Posted in Design, Expanding, inside, outside | Also tagged , , | You are welcome to add your comment

Christopher Alexander on Gauguin’s Cow

n

After reading this, I invite you to repeat an experiment I did: do an online search for both pictures and see what you get! “The cow is more basic still. This one is less knowing that Gauguin’s other works. When I saw it at Christie’s, the junior auctioneer told me it was a ‘very nice […]

Posted in Design, Expanding, inside, outside | Also tagged | You are welcome to add your comment

Christopher Alexander on Nolde’s Sunset

n

“If we look at a sunset, we have all seen one; what more basic, more primitive response is there, than to dip the brush in yellow, scrawl yellow, yellow, yellow, all over the central sun? But who would dare to do it? It would have taken enormous daring to be so absurdly basic. And then […]

Posted in Design, Expanding, inside, outside | Also tagged | You are welcome to add your comment

Christopher Alexander on Pleasing Yourself

n

“In order to create living structure, we must please ourselves … And you need only please yourself. But you must please yourself truly. And to do that you must first discover your own true self, come close enough to t, and to listen to it, so that it can be pleased. Does this sound absurd? […]

Posted in Design, Expanding, inside, outside | Also tagged , , | You are welcome to read 2 comments and to add yours

Christopher Alexander on Making as Healing

n

“When the I-stuff is created, it nourishes the maker – not only the viewer, but the maker too. For some reason, the process of making things which are alive enlarges us, deepens our experience. I feel more alive for having done it. It is like food … What is the reason for this ‘food-like’ character […]

Posted in Expanding, inside | Also tagged , , | You are welcome to add your comment

Christopher Alexander on Tears, Sadness and Unity

n

This resonates deeply with me. A pursuit of happiness has never appealed or worked out for me. If what Alexander is true, then the oh-so-popular notion of “pursuit of happiness” is bound to hit a wall. My experiences of happiness seem to expire quickly, while my experiences of sadness seem resonate deeper and longer … […]

Posted in AltEco, Design, Expanding, inside, outside | Also tagged , , , | You are welcome to read 1 comment and to add yours

Christopher Alexander on Schrödinger’s Yellow

n

“Schrödinger, the physicist who discovered the matter-wave equation of quantum mechanics, has a great deal to teach us about color and its real existence. He outlines [in his short book Mind and Matter] the following argument. ‘You and I, both see yellow. But according to the prevailing view of science, there is no way of […]

Posted in Design, outside | Also tagged , | You are welcome to read 1 comment and to add yours

Christopher Alexander on Color Properties of Inner Light

n

This post is an except from an extensive chapter about color. As I was reading through the chapter and excerpting from it the subject of relationships was on my mind and in my heart. When I speak of relationships between people, especially between myself and people close to me, things tend to get personal(!). However […]

Posted in Design, Expanding, inside, outside | Also tagged , | You are welcome to add your comment

Christopher Alexander on Inner Light

n

This section of the book is filled with examples, including works of art, that demonstrate the qualities Alexander discusses. I looked up a few of these examples online and wanted to include them here, but the color rendering of low resolution images in heavily manipulated color pallettes on the screen is not true to the […]

Posted in Design, outside | Also tagged , | You are welcome to add your comment

Christoppher Alexander on Windows to the Ground

n

This (kind of?) makes up for my not excerpting sooner about centers … but without the previous, softer, experiental introduction, this may be harder to swallow ..anyways … here it is: “I am going to start with the idea that the I exists physically, that there is some plenum, not part of the physical space […]

Posted in Expanding, inside | Also tagged , | You are welcome to read 2 comments and to add yours

Christopher Alexander on Searching for Being

n

“Many years ago I lived in India. In the village where I lived, at night especially, some sounds travel a long way … I remember walking around in the fields at night, and once hearing in the very far distance, very, very far off, a flute playing in the night. You could barely pick out […]

Posted in Expanding, inside | Also tagged | You are welcome to read 1 comment and to add yours

Christopher Alexander on Persuasion through Experience

n

“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 […]

Posted in Expanding, inside | Also tagged | You are welcome to add your comment

Christopher Alexander on Centers as Beings

n

“… every living structure is composed of thousands of pictures of the eternal self. A being is a small thing. It is a name for a center which is connected to the I … But, unlike the phrase ‘living center’ or ‘living structure.,’ the word ‘being’ draws attention to the nearly animate quality that appears […]

Posted in Design, outside | Also tagged , | You are welcome to read 1 comment and to add yours

Christopher Alexander on “The I”

n

“Some experiences of I, within the things of the world, and especially within the things of nature, is shared, I think, by every human being, in some degree … I look at the waterfall and say I find it pleasing … In a second, also mild, version of this experience, I enjoy the waterfall, and […]

Posted in AltEco, Expanding, inside, outside, Yoga, Yoga & I | Also tagged , , | You are welcome to read 7 comments and to add yours

Christopher Alexander on a Real Relatedness

n

I was this person who’s relatedness was damaged by dead structures (physical and metaphysical) of the world. It makes me wonder if being at Bhudeva is a phase of cleansing and re-nourishing? Will I one day look back at it as my “great retreat”? I acknowledge, I want to see, I am willing to experience […]

Posted in AltEco, Expanding, inside, outside | Also tagged , , | You are welcome to read 1 comment and to add yours

Christopher Alexander on Devotional Atmosphere

n

“As a matter of observation, it is simply true to say that many of the most beautiful works of art in the world’s history, and many of the most profoundly living structures, large and small, that human beings have created, have been created within … a … mystical religious context. … What, then, about the […]

Posted in AltEco, Design, Expanding, inside, outside | Also tagged , , | You are welcome to add your comment

Christopher Alexander on Ultra Mechanistic

n

For more on this dear-to-me subject see Robert Pirsig’s Lila and the work of Rupert Sheldrake … and this is just the opening of the book “Scientists often like to say that the materialist view of present-day science is potentially consistent with early any view of ethics or religion because it says nothing about these […]

Posted in AltEco, Design, Expanding, inside, Intellect Run Amok, outside | Also tagged , , | You are welcome to read 3 comments and to add yours

Christopher Alexander on Inert Matter

n

” … our view of matter is flawed … The substance which the 20th century world was made of remained the inert, mechanical space-time of Descartes, Newton and Einstein, of quantum mechanics and the string theorists. This mechanical substance is our cake. So far, our spiritual views and ethical views are only frosting on this […]

Posted in AltEco, Design, Intellect Run Amok, outside | Also tagged , , | You are welcome to add your comment

Christopher Alexander on Tat Tvam Asi

n

I have been looking forward to book 4 … and then this in its preface: “Early in my life as an architect, as first I was confused or deceived by the teaching I received from architectural instructors. I thought that those things which are important – and perhaps the things which I aspired to make […]

Posted in AltEco, Design, Expanding, inside, outside | Also tagged , | You are welcome to add your comment

Christopher Alexander on Our Birthright

n

deep sigh … there’s a book ending to contemplate … architecture!!! “I should like to make one last comment on the buildings I have shown, the processes, the forms. Throughout, in all this material, we touch on a birthright. Yet this birthright that I speak of, it is in the mind, in people’s minds. And […]

Posted in AltEco, Expanding, inside, outside | Also tagged | You are welcome to add your comment

Christopher Alexander on Archetype

n

“When everything is going right, when the fundamental process is used well, what comes out is not only natural, not only simple, not only living structure. It has too an archetypal quality – something savage [wild, untamed, original, direct, ‘as it comes forth’ … unweakened by sophisticated thought or culture] …. It is always the […]

Posted in AltEco, Design, Expanding, inside, outside | Tagged | You are welcome to add your comment

Christopher Alexander on Color

n

This is merely an opening for a subject that is covered in more depth in book 4 “I believe that color, like music, holds the key to life as it appears in art; it is, perhaps, the most fundamental way in which things in geometry – that means real physical things in the world – […]

Posted in Design, outside | Also tagged | You are welcome to add your comment

Christopher Alexander on Ornament … in the Eyes of God

n

“If the field od centers comes to life when it is endlessly differentiated and extended, then that same field of centers – which is after all a pure structure of geometry in space – will find its most living state when all creation, everything in the word, really is ornament. … I know that I […]

Posted in AltEco, Design, outside | Also tagged | You are welcome to add your comment

Christopher Alexander on Unfolding Ornament

n

“Ornament arises naturally, when a person is making something and seeks to embellish this ‘something’. The embellishing is spontaneous. It comes from the continuing unfolding of the whole … it arises as a result of the latent centers in the uncompleted thing requiring still more centers, requiring still more structure in order to be complete. […]

Posted in AltEco, Design, outside | Also tagged | You are welcome to read 1 comment and to add yours

Christopher Alexander on Green Materials

n

“We need new types of materials and techniques which have the following two functionally necessary attributes fo the construction process: We need to be able to shape materials rapidly and carefully so that the process of shaping … easily creates living centers … … We also need the the process of shaping and forming centers […]

Posted in AltEco, Design, Money, outside | Tagged | You are welcome to add your comment

Christopher Alexander on Wabi to Sabi – Rusty Beauty

n

I am starting to feel a build up of “missing” excerpts … from the first phase of my reading Alexander (before I started excerpting) and from some things which didn’t feel “excerptable” … in this case roughness. “… to get the perfect adaptation which is required by the unfolding of a field of centers, you […]

Posted in Design, outside | Also tagged , | You are welcome to add your comment

Christopher Alexander on Working on Wholeness

n

“… the operations of making and construction are distinguished by the way they handle the wholes and centers which are being formed … The essence of a succesful construction process … is that the team working on a given part of a building have the satisfaction of working on a psychological whole and making it […]

Posted in Community, Design, outside | Tagged | You are welcome to add your comment

Christopher Alexander on Making

n

“Just as one can hardly make a vibrant painting unless the paint and paintbrush are in one’s own hands, so I cannot imagine how to make a concrete component in a building unless the substance of the concrete, the mold, the forming, the conception, the sizing and shaping – and the sheer love of doing […]

Posted in AltEco, Design, outside | Tagged | You are welcome to read 1 comment and to add yours

Christopher Alexander on Traditional Elements

n

a beautiful illustration of the nature and manifestation of static quality “In a natural unfolding of the building – the wholeness of that configuration itself – generates centers at various key points … Consider an imaginary process in which a generalized building is conceived, in outlines, as a hazy volume … even without knowledge of […]

Posted in Uncategorized | Also tagged , , | You are welcome to add your comment

Christopher Alexander on Microstructure

n

so … in mixing cob, even though it looks like we are stomping mud, we are creating life at a molecular level! “The walls, are they living centers? Is the roof a  living center? Is the roof edge a living center? Are the columns living centers? Are the windows living centers? Is every door a […]

Posted in AltEco, Design, outside | Tagged | You are welcome to add your comment

Christopher Alexander on the Purpose of a Room

n

“In principle, a room is the sanctification and illumination of a life. It is your life made manifest. The room itself, like a cradle or a gathering together of a life is, in its essence, the place of a thousand joys and sorrows, the receptacle of your life and your children’s lives, the embodiment, in […]

Posted in Design, Expanding, inside, outside | Also tagged | You are welcome to read 1 comment and to add yours

Christopher Alexander on a Coherent Plan

n

” … it is more important to get the rooms right, one by one, than it is to have a coherent ‘plan’. Don’t worry about trying to arrange the overall plan – that is not unfolding but manipulation. Instead, start with the most important room. Put it in the most important place, towards the garden, […]

Posted in Design, outside | Tagged | You are welcome to add your comment

Christopher Alexander on Vital Centers of a Room

n

“Now we come to the internal organization of the room. This is the most subtle aspect of room design. It is extremely hard because, in many cases, the centers which to be created, and which define the room, are almost invisible. … The vital centers which govern the life of the room are nearly invisible […]

Posted in Design, outside | Tagged | You are welcome to add your comment

Christopher Alexander on the Most Important Room

n

“At an early stage in a building design process, the rooms are first established in position: usually to start with, by name, size and rough position. At this stage, conceptually, we may say that the rooms are (usually) rough rectangular volumes of space which have yet to be made ‘good’. In theory, one might argue […]

Posted in Design, outside | Tagged | You are welcome to read 1 comment and to add yours

Christopher Alexander on Mass Situations

n

There is a section of the text about sequences that I did not quote from because there was no single quote that shimmered for me and I felt that it needed to be kept whole. This quote builds upon that missing subject and yet seems to have an independence. It holds, I believe, a key […]

Posted in AltEco, Design, outside | Tagged | You are welcome to add your comment

Christopher Alexander on Sameness and Uniqueness

n

this quote comes after a story of how three different houses individually unfolded in a shared place in nature where three families wanted to create a shared experience: “The uniqueness of the houses, the sensation that they are like nature, different leaves off the same tree, comes in large part from the way these houses […]

Posted in AltEco, Community, Design, Enjoy, inside, outside | Tagged | You are welcome to add your comment

Christopher Alexander on Doing Work Together

n

One beneficial side effect, I believe, to a process as described in this quote, would be that group decision-making would probably take more time (then is typically allocated for it) … as it should. This kind of process unveils the illusion of quick-feel-good-superficial-consensus. It takes time, engagement, care, patience, attention to detail … if a […]

Posted in AltEco, Community, Design, outside | Tagged | You are welcome to add your comment

Christopher Alexander on Static & Dynamic

n

dynamic and static indeed … and also … how to juggle these two qualities “Think about the time dependent process by which an unplanned human settlement grows naturally. Someone starts with the idea of building or living on a certain site. A few people build their houses there. In the natural order of things, perhaps […]

Posted in AltEco, Community, Design, outside | Tagged | You are welcome to add your comment

Christopher Alexander on Cars in Neighborhoods

n

… though the subject of a neighborhood is of lesser interest to me …this is a wonderful example of direct reasoning and priorities … and this is just one example … is it any wonder that our sense of community has been eroded … and the funny thing is that I too always appreciated the […]

Posted in AltEco, Community, Design, Expanding, inside, outside | Tagged | You are welcome to add your comment