Christopher Alexander

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Christopher Alexander (born 1936-10-04) is an Austrian-born British architect.


  • In my life as an architect, I found that the single thing which inhibits young professionals, new students most severely, is their acceptance of standards that are too low.


  • There is a central quality which is the root criterion of life and spirit in a man, a town a building, or a wilderness. This quality is objective and precise, but it cannot be named.
  • When they have a choice, people will always gravitate to those rooms which have light on two sides, and leave the rooms which are lit only from one side unused and empty.
  • High buildings have no genuine advantages, except in speculative gains for banks and land owners. They are not cheaper, they do not help create open space, they destroy the townscape, they destroy social life, they promote crime, they make life difficult for children, they are expensive to maintain, they wreck the open spaces near them, and they damage light and air and view.
  • There is one timeless way of building. It is a thousand years old, and the same today as it has ever been. The great traditional buildings of the past, the villages and tents and temples in which man feels at home, have always been made by people who were very close to the center of this way. It is not possible to make great buildings, or great towns, beautiful places, places where you feel yourself, places where you feel alive, except by following this way. And, as you will see, this way will lead anyone who looks for it to buildings which are themselves as ancient in their form, as the trees and hills, and as our faces are.
  • A building or a town will only be alive to the extent that it is governed by the timeless way. 1. It is a process which brings order out of nothing but ourselves; it cannot be obtained , but it will happen of its own accord, if we will only let it. To seek the timeless way we first must know the quality without a name. 2. There is a central quality which is the rooted criterion of life and the spirit of man, a town, a building,or a wilderness. This quality is objective and precise, but it cannot be named. 3. The search which we make for this quality, in our own lives, is the central search of any person, and the crux of any individual persons story. It is the search for those moments and situations when we are most alive. 4. In order to define this quality in buildings and in the towns, we must begin by understanding that every place is given its character by certain patterns of events that keep on happening there. 5. These patterns of events are always interlocked with certain geometric patterns in space. Indeed, as we shall see, each building and each town is ultimately made out of these patterns in the space, and out of nothing else: They are the atoms and the molecules from which a building is made. 6. the specific patterns of which a building or a town is made may be alive or dead. To the extent they are alive, they let our inner forces loose, and set us free; but when they are dead, they keep us locked in inner conflict. 7. The more living patterns there are in a place-a room, a building, or a town-the more it comes to life as an entity, the more it glows, the more it glows, the more it has that self maintaining fire which is the quality without a name.

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