“I began with love and prayer, I changed to anger and rebellion. I was transformed into what yo see before you.”
Frank Herbert

God Emperor of Dune

Christopher Alexander on Structural Engineering … of Space and Solid

“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 building 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 at 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 people 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

Nature of Order - Table of Contents"

Leave a Reply

  • Outside

  • Subscribe via Email