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Analytical approach on design theories of christopher alexander
Analytical approach on
design theories of
Notes on combination of form and
pattern language to new concepts of
Dr. N. Mohajeri , Dr. Sh. Qom
Essay Received Date: 11/08/2007
Date of Acceptance: 29/12/2008
Girne American University,
Architecture & Fine Art Faculty
Ms. Student 143204002
Girne American University,
Architecture & Fine Art Faculty
Journal of city identity / Second Year / No2 / spring and summer
Keywords: Christopher Alexander, theory, design, quality of life,
There are two distinct major currents of thought. First, his ideas in his
previous opinions, Christopher AlexanderAlexander, Christopher,((2004),
"Notes on combining form", translated by S. Resin Mehr, Rozaneh published, Tehran) can not be
completely ruled out. But they will develop. His theory was based
primarily on the rationalism of Descartes problems divided into smaller
components, and each component individually assessed and ultimately
led to an overall solution.
His areas of architecture and urban design patterns as a basis for
understanding the future rather to the quality of living. In the this paper
analyzes the philosophical aspects of his theory designed to clarify and
analyze the content, discipline, His past experiences and perspectives in
the field of complexity theory in four stages were analyzed.
Urban Development , Department of Science and Research Branch, Islamic Azad University, Tehran
Instructor, Faculty of Architecture, South Tehran Branch, Islamic Azad University, Tehran
In this paper, design theory, Christopher Alexander was analyzed in four stages.
The first step involves finding appropriate methods of rational design approach
and at this point in the notes to the combined form is released.
At this point of view, not a tree. (Alexander, Christopher, (1993), "New Theory of Urban Design",
translated by Consultants Tash publishing, Tehran.)
New theory will also discuss the urban design. In both of these theories is the
rational approach to alternative approaches.
( Alexander, Christopher, (2001), "Architecture and the secret of immortality (the time of construction)", translated by
M. Qayyum Bidhendi, Shahid Beheshti University, Tehran.)
This paper provides a summary analysis of the evolution of ideas in achieving
designer Alexander timeless design methods and try to make them immortal.
Quality in all living organisms, ranging from unicellular microorganisms, and
there are believed Macroorganisms Alexander ensure internal consistency of
• Lalín Mack, Brian J., (2006), "Urban planning and regional planning system approach", translated by Dr.
F. Habib, Islamic Azad University, Tehran.
• Yar Ahmadi, A., (1996), "The city of the humanist", publishing companies and urban planning process,
• Alexander, Christopher, (1964), "Notes on the Synthesis of Form", Harvard University press, Cambridge
The comparative analysis in this paper
For comparison, consider the relationship between the principles
of Alexander the various sources used. In this way the various
aspects of the evidence collected and compared with the other
relevant evidence. In other words, the processes of design,
features and different mechanisms by comparing and analyzing
the evidence taken together.
First stage: a rational approach
The book notes that the combination of form, Alexander relied on rationalism
of Descartes and use it to solve design problems rivals. The book with the help
of set theory, graph theory and computer use was completed. In this approach the
problem can be divided into its smallest components. Every piece is individually
assessed and resolved, and then finally to reach the final solution, the
components are combined. (Alexander, 1964: 12). Notes on combining form
Alexander tried to find ways to express the designs. In this book, he designed a
number of important factors such as: Form - Background adjustment -
Inconsistency consciousness - unconscious, all new categories are introduced.
Alexander states that form the bulk of the design and design major problem is
how to coordinate the form field. Form an important part of the design process at
all stages of the design is that designers must be masters. Areas also form part of
the design is to concatenate (Grabow, 1983: 2). In the book of diagrams as key
creation process takes the form name. (Alexander the final diagram of the pattern
calls). Many buildings are designed as an artistic subject, without the slightest
importance given to the area and surrounding areas.
He believes that there should be harmony between form and context, although
this rarely happened in modern architecture, but this is clearly seen in the house
Falls Wright. In fact, in this building, house and surrounding area both belong to
But the main issue for the design of Alexander, finding variables are
incompatible. Alexander was not interested in conventional solutions. The
theory of adaptation - Alexander incompatibility problems there, firstly difficult
to find all the variables inconsistent. Second, information about important
variables such as compatible as much information about the disagreements. If
there is not enough information for a good cause, may be one of the most
appropriate design solutions, self tapping the left and to the creation of a
variable to be incompatible. Thirdly, one can argue that the two elements are
consistent (harmonization) and incompatible (inconsistent) is divided.
Alexander notes on combining observations form an important difference
between the approaches of the unconscious and conscious approach to the
design and construction of raises. Alexander the definition of a good design in
architecture and indigenous building that was built in the traditional
communities, respectively. Indigenous communities and their traditional
architectural forms during and after passing the test of time and have found
errors corrected (trial and error). Any change in these communities and they
have traditionally been slow and slow the build system to adapt to changes. But
in the modern world, the introduction of non-indigenous and modern
technology, occurs. Alexander in the book Notes on combining form as
completely rational attempts to explain the process to take advantage of modern
mathematics. He believed that the problems of architecture and design, the
designers ignorance about the true nature of things and the wrong attitude they
emanated logic and mathematics. This book is about the design process, a
process developed in response to the performance of any physical, configuration
and management provides a new form.
Second, the emphasis on the whole
Alexander in 1965 with the name of a tree paper is published. This
paper compares several cities
Tree species that had developed around the world with cities were
normal. Alexander concluded that cities are designed as Chndygar city
in India, Brasilia in Brazil and Tokyo in Japan, do not act as designers
have predicted. This is due to the fact that these cities were designed
based on logical principles. He received a traditional cities that are
organically grown and formed a complex pattern with a common
structure are eligible. Alexander said: "The human mind, the tree, the
easiest method of reasoning" (Alexander, 1966: 4).
The cities are designed with different physical models show that organic
towns, cities were spontaneous growth of the various functions there is
no clear separation. So at first glance it may order any organization and
order in the city, but in fact a kind of discipline is not automatic and
organic view of their inherent potential lies. The book is organized
Alexander named a city proposes to organize overlapping. These
structures can be mixed land use planners and urban designers allows
the flexibility to change, instead of separating land use and zoning
practices apply. These cities are designed based on network
relationships represents a systematic approach to planning and urban
design (Mac Lalín, 71, 1385).
Alexander, Christopher, (1977), "A Pattern Language", Oxford university press, New York.
Alexander, Christopher, (1975), "The Oregon Experiment", Oxford university press, New York.
Alexander on "The city is not a tree." Emphasizes the interactions
between pedestrians and vehicles and how can these two
functions as a pair, interact with each other, in the role. The semi-
structured network of spaces separating pedestrians and vehicles
to protect pedestrians priority areas have been emphasized.
Triangulation method to organize small-scale overlapping
functions might coordinate spaces Larger urban scale. This
method of overlapping of two or more spaces are used and to
facilitate additional functions and interactions among the public.
Examples of semi-structured network and the network shown in the
figure below (Alexander, 1966: 44):
1. Semi-network structures (Alexander, 1966: 44)
2. Tree species (Alexander, 1966: 44)
Brolin, Brent c., (1976), "Failure of Modern Architecture", Van No strand Reinhold Company, New York.
Grabow, Stephen, (1983), "Christopher Alexander and the Search for a New Paradigm in Architecture ", Oriel press, Stocks field.
After the publication of the book "The city is not a tree," Alexander in
1988, has published a new theory of urban design. When he raised the
most beautiful cities in the world to look at is the feeling that we are
living in cities. The feeling of "being alive" is not vague, but it is an
accurate portrayal of a particular structure of the oldest cities possess.,
sidewalks, in homes, shops, markets, roads, parks, gardens, walls and
even on balconies and decoration of the city (Alexander, 27,1373).
In this book, he proposes a framework for the design and urban
planning which requires advance planning and inseparable link barter
with neighboring regions and the neighborhood around it. This feature
does not exist in the cities of today.There's this whole military and can
not buy it there too.
It is this process that is most responsible for the formation of the whole,
not just the product itself. If you create a suitable process for the design
of cities and towns in the hope that there will once again be able to
become a whole.
Shipsk, james, (1984), "Christopher Alexander Theory and Practice", Architecture Issue.
New Theory of Urban Design Alexander Seven Rules for
this process, however, is applicable, provides and show
how the urban space "of" making:
1. The gradual growth and granularity
2. The growth of larger
3. deeply and see
4. The key principle of good urban spaces
5. The arrangement of large buildings
7. The formation of centers
Third stage: the development of a pattern
Alexander realized his ideas in the book Notes on the composition and form
of a tree is not the solution
To create beautiful buildings do not provide quality free time. Of course,
part of this is due to his dissatisfaction with modern architecture. At this
time, the idea of designer Alexander entered a new phase. He Patterns
And emphasize the "whole" was preferred over other designs. Read the new
idea in the book building method and pattern language Sitte, Camillio, (1965) is a
reflection of the eternal. This book places particular emphasis on the
interaction between people and their environment.thousand years ago were
known as the primary design and a part of human nature as well.
Alexander's pattern language as a means of perpetuating the building and
design tools, in order to give meaning to their human environment and
offers. He interesting comparison between the language model and a
common language (the language spoken by the people say) do: with a
pattern language, the ability to create an unlimited variety of cities,
buildings, new urban spaces are unique and Field such as language and the
ability to create an infinite variety of sentences is (Alexander, 1977: 43).
Sitte, Camillio, (1965), "City Planning According to Artistic Principles", Phaidon press, Ltd, London.
Alexander's pattern language consists of a set of units (a wrong
impression about it), but these models have raised the commonalities for
communication with other units.
The book presents a pattern language patterns to which people are able
to build their own buildings and the physical environment. The Model
253 provides that they can be divided into three main categories: cities,
buildings and structures. Each model offers a solution to a problem that
has been repeated over and over in various deals. Like to link words
together to form sentences, models are also capable of producing a large
number of design solution. Alexander theory, models will be designed
to respond to problems and this comes as any single project may be a
solution to apply (Alexander, 1977: 45).
The general solution to all the problems of the design pattern language
does not provide, for example, if a person wants a basic input for the
design can not be directly referred to the book and bring out a design
pattern that because the pattern language, rich set of alphabet which can
help to create a quality living environment, as physical. But you have to
select the appropriate models that meet the criteria for the design and
location to take necessary precautions.
Template design discipline in one way or another, but the
challenge is to integrate models and practical projects. But the
main problem here is that there is a relationship between these
models. Each model has a larger pattern that is higher than itself,
and also linked to its smaller models that are under it. The
language model based on the interaction of people and their
environment is stressed. The design of these models as a tool in
order to give meaning to human and environment uses, and
believes very powerful tool to control complex processes and
patterns. But due to lack of understanding of their wider role in
architectural design and is in a position to have made significant
changes in patterns of computer science. The pattern in the
1. The way to understand and control complex systems
2. Use the pattern language as a tool to achieve the structural and
After Alexander's pattern language development, realized that his theory
is still in its usual answer to the question "How does the quality of the
physical environment created?" No.The population has grown and they
are to survive. This order is the common language of the common
model is needed. This requires a common framework designed to shape.
The design language is a factor that changes the subject, that man
contributes to prevent her from being forgotten, to maintain their
structures and to achieve eternal life.live alone.
Today Alexander studies have focused on coherent structures.
(Alexander, Christopher, (2004), "The Nature of Order: an Essay on the Art of Building and the Nature
of Universe "(four books), Oxford university press, New York.)
He believes that the order in the space of 14 days Alexander studies on
coherent structures affect the physical, functional space, and the other
one order, the order form. The two systems (functional form) Main
characteristics of a space. System performance can be found in a car
prepared coal to occur automatically. This machine is fully functional
because it is precisely on the basis of performance and efficiency have
been developed. This machine is very simple expression, as described in
detail. In order to express the pot, one can only give a subjective
response time compared with objective descriptions of an operating
system, is not valid. The order of nature and human feelings to bind and
this "whole" name. In a good design, "totality" of the individual
components of the structure can be seen (Grabow, 1983: 22).
For example, there is universality. Four minarets, materials, calligraphy
and the environment, all components have completed the form in
Design 15 "Taj Mahal" and if one of them must be set aside, the whole
will be undermined. The order of function and form can also be
effective in achieving the quality of life in the physical environment.
These two methods of environmental design in order to apparent
(Grabow, 1983: 25).
Sanders, William, (2005), "In the Cause of Architecture", Architectural Record.
Alexander always tries to make sense of experience into the design
process. For example, in one of his own design studio, with her
colleagues designed a bench with a holistic approach. Bench is designed
to cater to the needs of sensory function, whereas they were happy with
its decoration made bench. Design, detail, and all participants formed a
part of the whole process. Although the smooth lines of modern bench
but was comfortable and pleasant, form and place, the location was the
result of practical experience.
Alexander Another work entitled “Oregon experience" natural look that
permits the full balance between the needs and requirements of the
individual components is provided. The internal arrangement of the
organic quality of its shape, creates a feel. This sense of awareness of
the particular structure of the oldest cities that qualify it as well. Each of
these cities under the general regulations, and the integrity of not only
the city but the feeling is possible in the smallest details. In older cities,
the whole city, its origin and the creators of the transition time is
continuous. Therefore, any future growth and expansion of the
institution of a special structure and the cities are affected. This species
grows only in the cities of the old city as a whole is not unique and can
be observed in other living organisms.
16- The Oregon Experiment, Christopher Alexsander Theory
The final step: create living structures, coherent and complex
The natural order in more than 30 years, based on careful
observation of the world around Alexander's writing, all the
theories he takes from the beginning until now. The main
objective of this thesis was to Alexander in this book how the
various phenomena and living together to create a coherent
structure. Structures that all phenomena in the universe of atoms
to crystals (microorganisms) and living forms and galaxies
(Macronasism) are common. (Alexander, 2004: 23)
The purpose of Alexander in the book refers to the process rather
than an emphasis on form or plan. As natural forms with similar
processes are formed and grow, develop neighborhoods and cities
must comply with these procedures. Alexander seeks to create
living structures and artifacts made by human hands. His
buildings and structures within the human artifacts to be
searched. Their perception and mental structures that help the
human person and his inner sense of their ability to emerge.
objective method for measuring the viability and vitality of
objects and phenomena knows.
Fractals are self-similar structures contiguous with hierarchical communications from large scale to small.
In order nature of the phenomenon that
surrounds him focused on critical aspects:
1. The scientific aspect 2. Aesthetic aspects 3. aspects of
aesthetic sense and intuition. The four books he has
established a profound link between these factors. In the first
book of nature phenomena in order to live the life of the 15
characteristics of a structure based on the principle of
"totality" which is described (Alexander, 2004: 50).
The second book in the process of creating the life of
Alexander the process by which the nature and manner of
living structures in the notes. Within this new theory, the
theory of deformation of the underlying structure is a theory
based on the concept of universality and holistic view is
formed. Deformation of the structure theory on which the
whole system is maintained, it extends and grow. This theory
applies to all phenomena and processes and characteristics in
order to build its viability.
In the third book of the vision of the living world of nature in order to
provide evidence of the process of creating structures of Alexander live
in buildings and cities studied. In this example, with unparalleled
simplicity and beauty of form and color are factors that exist in the
process of building or reinforcing. In addition, Alexander places and
buildings which have been created by living processes and structure are
vital to our existence as human associates. Finally, his final book in the
field of bright, geometric approach of matter and space, argues that a
fully human person and his experience of space is concerned. His
rational approach to analytical thinking and sensory perception of
phenomena and structures to create a living, and considers necessary.
Furthermore, Article 15 of the inextricable link that leads to a whole
unit and integrated knowledge, the most important result of this book.
The fifteen principle is as follows Alexander (Alexander, 2004: 165)
18-Fifteen Principle collections of Alexander is as follows:
1- Levels of Scale 2- Strong Center 3- Deep Interlock and Ambiguity 4- Good Shape 5- Positive Space 6- Echoes
7-Roughness 8-The Void 9-Contrast 10- Simplicity and inner calm 11-Local Symmetries 12 -Alternating Repetition
13- Boundaries 14 –Gradients 15-Not-Separation 19-Timeless quality
Alexander thought this article was about his design theories, the book
Notes on the order of nature combine to form (new concepts of
complexity theory), analyzed and evaluated. In the theories of
Alexander in the connection between various components in the design
and planning was not successful. But this theory has been successful in
his recent works. Notes on combination of form, his rational approach
to planning and design, and almost opposing position to defend its
subsequent comments. The new theory of urban design, Alexander the
importance of the principle of "universality" as a basis for the design
and urban planning emphasized.
Pattern language and eternal buildings, the application of design
patterns to provide physical environments. Alexander's book is not a
quick and easy reference for solving all the problems of design are
considered, but should be used as a design guide. The design is based on
an understanding of the patterns is possible to achieve success as a
result of the experiences of people over the ages and time.
1. Alexander, Christopher, (2004), "Notes on combining form", translated by S. Resin Mehr, Rozaneh published, Tehran.
2. Alexander, Christopher, (2001), "Architecture and the secret of immortality (the time of construction)", translated by M. Qayyum
Bidhendi, Shahid Beheshti University, Tehran.
3. Alexander, Christopher, (1993), "New Theory of Urban Design", translated by Consultants Tash publishing, Tehran.
4. Lalín Mack, Brian J., (2006), "Urban planning and regional planning system approach", translated by Dr. F. Habib, Islamic Azad
5. Yar Ahmadi, A., (1996), "The city of the humanist", publishing companies and urban planning process, Tehran.
6- Alexander, Christopher, (1964), "Notes on the Synthesis of Form", Harvard University press, Cambridge and Massachusetts.
7- Alexander, Christopher, (1966), "A City is not a Tree", Urban Design Journal, no.206, pp.44-45
8- Alexander, Christopher, (1977), "A Pattern Language", Oxford university press, New York.
9- Alexander, Christopher, (1975), "The Oregon Experiment", Oxford university press, New York.
10- Brolin, Brent c., (1976), "Failure of Modern Architecture", Van No strand Reinhold Company, New
11- Grabow, Stephen, (1983), "Christopher Alexander and the Search for a New Paradigm in
Architecture ", Oriel press, Stocks field.
12- Shipsk, james, (1984), "Christopher Alexander Theory and Practice", Architecture Issue.
13- Sitte, Camillio, (1965), "City Planning According to Artistic Principles", Phaidon press, Ltd, London.
14- Alexander, Christopher, (2004), "The Nature of Order: an Essay on the Art of Building and the
Nature of Universe "(four books), Oxford university press, New York.
15- Sanders, William, (2005), "In the Cause of Architecture", Architectural Record.