Christopher Alexander: this is what you're trying to do!

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From an interview published in Tricycle Magazine with the architect and theorist Christopher Alexander

Not long ago, I was a little bit gloomy and fed up. I went up to Inverness [on the northern California coast], had an okay meal, stayed at a motel, and went to sleep, which didn’t improve my mood. And then in the morning, I decided to drive to the northern end of Point Reyes—out where you sometimes see herds of Tule Elk.

I was getting to a place where the land falls away sharply on both sides of the road. It was misty, and I decided not to continue. I pulled off into a field, popped out of the car, and right next to the car was a patch of long grass. I lay down in the grass, looking through the stems and blades of grass, out at Tomales Bay. There was a lot of mist and fog, and every now and then the mist would clear. You see, and then you can’t quite see.

In the grass there were a very small number of flowers, rather sparse. I think there was one blue flower and a few white flowers, but mainly it was grass. I was lying there looking at this, and the perfection of it gradually began to impress itself on me. There was a faint sense of light in each of the bits of grass. It wasn’t a revelation in any literal sense, and yet as I was looking through these grass stems, myself almost part of the grass, suddenly the thought came to me, So this is what you’re trying to do! What the grass does: it is effortlessly creating a beautiful and complex environment. And it isn’t just capable of it, but it is doing it,everywhere, and every day, and so easily. I was comforted, because the grass found it so easy.

So there’s nothing for me to worry about at all. Even if I fail in my lifetime, it is so obvious. Surely people will understand it sooner or later.


15 geometric properties of wholeness

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From the work of the architect and theorist Christopher Alexander: the fifteen geometric relationships that more often than not occur in structures that are whole, beautiful and alive.

Alexander’s theories, especially the late work he published in the four volumes of The Nature of Order, are being integrated into practice through the pedagogy and hands-on construction work underway in Sorrento, Italy at a new school called Building Beauty. TUG co-founder Dan Klyn is on the teaching and administrative staff of the school.