“The world doesn’t yield to us directly, the description of the world stands in between. So, properly speaking, we are always one step removed and our experiences of the world is always a recollection of the experience. We are perennially recollecting the instant that has just happened, just passed.”
Carlos Castaneda

Tales of Power

Christopher Alexander on Structural Engineering … of Space and Solid

n

“To solve the problem [of structural engineering], you need to address the alternation of space and solid in the building; and you need to approach this matter almost as if it were a problem of decoration, of playing, making the solid mass of the building so beautiful in its own right …

It is too often forgotten that a building is, above all, a load-bearing structure. The most significant thing about what we call a buildins is that it is a disposition of material weighing several hundred or several thousand tons. The question is, how do we arrange these thousands of tons to make something with powerful sense, with psychic force?

To do it, we essentially have to think of the structure as big and the space as small. The structure is made of big and massive members … And the building will be beautiful , or not, according to the pattern of these members in three dimensions …

Structural mass is almost always distributed with rhythm …

The process of creating the structure consists mainly of work we do in the centers, trying to make them stronger and more intense. The process of making the centers intense, and the process of making the structure powerful and able to withstand forces, are the essence of the thing. We master the art of making this structure ar that moment when we see the system of load-bearing elements (structure) and the system of rooms (spatial centers) as one and the same problem …

This is virtually pure art. It is not, as peoeple sometimes like to say, a mixture of practical and art. It is pure art.

… what the fundamental process does to make a building beautiful, is to make the structure part and parcel of the space … The structural elements form a composition in their own right, as do the spaces: two beautiful systems of centers, each with its own weight and substance, each interlocked and interdependent with the other.

So, a good building, in the end, is a dense packing of pure pattern in three dimensions, in which every piece, every part, is positive. This is not so easy to achieve …

What is most remarkable of all, is that the structure which is created by a feeling for centers and by a conscious and deliberate aim towards the feeling of the whole, will often turn out to be an efficient structure … engineering structure … efficient, stable, well behaved, coherent … Why this happens is a deep matter, too difficult to analyze here. “

Christopher Alexander – The Nature of Order – Book 3: A Vision of a Living World

 

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

Addiction: a crisis of disconnection

n

“… the path out of unhealthy bonds is to form healthy bonds …

for too long we’ve talked only about individual recovery from addiction

but we need now to talk about social recovery …”

via Esko Kipli

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

Christopher Alexander on Building Volumes

n

… putting buildings in service of the land … being in service gives purpose and context and direction … being in service becomes a nourishing relationship (if you can get it right) … being in service of what wants to be instead of expecting to be served what I want …

“The most crucial thing to understand throughout the volume-creating processes, is that IT IS THE LAND WHICH MATTERS. The purpose of the buildings is to bring life to the land. The building volumes are the tools with which we undertake this task. This is a radical point of view. It puts the building in a humble position making it a tool, the clay from which we mold the pace. But it is the land and its space, as they become activated by this clay, which really matter.

… It is remarkable to realize that it is this uncompromising attitude of attention to the land which also makes the building volumes subtle and beautiful. That is truly surprising. The land itself, and our love for it, is enough to give the actual building volumes their shape …

Like a person who, in being helpful, becomes more graceful, more beautiful as a person, the building volumes become beautiful as they help the land.”

Christopher Alexander – The Nature of Order – Book 3: A Vision of a Living World

 

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

Christopher Alexander on Eyes of Lovers

n

I find it challenging to allow both critical thinking and “eyes of lovers” to co-exist, inform each other, bounce around, contain  … and hopefully integrate …

“To start with, we look at that land with the eyes of lovers. We see the land, appreciate its good qualities, love what is it, no matter how derelict, still we love what is best in it. And then, as lovers of it, we have to imagine that by putting a building there, we can make the place better. This is often hard to imagine. In a natural landscape, is it really possible that the bushes, the buttercups, the small blue flowers on the hedge are made better by putting a building somewhere? But I persist … I begin to see a glimpse of the way that the whole land might become better if I put a building there … I get a glimmer of an idea that this land can actually be improved, made better …”

Christopher Alexander – The Nature of Order – Book 3: A Vision of a Living World

 

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

Christopher Alexander on Feeling of Materials

n

This takes me back to the conversation Annelieke and I had about the roofing material used for the deck. I designed for corrugated sheet metal, Annelieke prefered clay tiles (which is what came to be). When Annelieke explained her position based on vague notions of magnetic fields I wasn’t comfortable with it … because neither of us know much about it … not substantial knowledge that we can relate to with any depth. However it is clear that the metal roof would have been a much less involved roof … I chose it because it was cheap and easy for me to build. The choice to go with clay tiles was much more demanding (the roof structure had to be changed / reinforced) and more involved … and in the end not that much more expensive. I also felt, and still feel that a green roof was the most “living” option … but it felt beyond my capacity when the buld was taking place.

“The feeling of a material does not depend on what it is – it depends on how it is handled.”

Christopher Alexander – The Nature of Order – Book 3: A Vision of a Living World

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