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Christopher Alexander, Do You See a Pattern?

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Notes on combination of form and pattern language to new concepts of complexity theory.

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Christopher Alexander, Do You See a Pattern?

  1. 1. Do You See a Pattern? An architectural theorist who has inspired smart-growth advocates, counterculture DIY-ers, and computer programmers. Notes on combination of form and pattern language to new concepts of complexity theory. Essay Received Date: 11/08/2007 Date of Acceptance: 29/12/2008 Shabnam GOLKARIAN Girne American University, Architecture & Fine Art Faculty Ms. Student 143204002 Girne American University, Architecture & Fine Art Faculty By Witold Rybczynski DEC. 2 2009 7:15 AM published: www.slate.com
  2. 2. Last month, the architect and author Christopher Alexander received the Vincent Scully Prize, given annually by the National Building Museum "to recognize exemplary practice, scholarship or criticism in architecture, historic preservation and urban design." For the last 45 years, Alexander has been a controversial figure on the architectural scene, both revered and reviled; yet in an period burdened by flocks of architectural theorists, I would guess that he is one of very few whose work will endure.
  3. 3. If Alexander often irritates his critics, it is in part because he is so obviously gifted. Born in Vienna in 1936, he was raised in England; won a prestigious scholarship to Cambridge, where he studied architecture and mathematics; and went on to receive Harvard's first architecture Ph.D. Not yet 30, he published his doctoral thesis as book, on the strength of which he received the American Institute of Architects Gold Medal, the first ever awarded for research.
  4. 4. Most people discover Alexander through his classic, A Pattern Language, which appeared in 1977. Small and fat (more than 1,000 pages), printed on fine paper, and bound in a plain maroon cover embossed with a gold escutcheon, it resembles a Latin breviary. Its author's ambitious goal was nothing less than to catalog the entire built environment— from towns to bedrooms—as a collection of discrete "patterns," 253 of them. Each pattern was explained, supported by research, and illustrated by sketches and photographs. "Each pattern describes a problem which occurs over and over again in our environment, and then describes the core of the solution to that problem, in such a way that you can use this solution a million times over, without ever doing it the same way twice." (Alexander 1979)
  5. 5. The patterns were linked to one another, showing which ones worked well together, and arranged hierarchically from large to small. "Neighborhood Boundaries," for example, suggests that strong neighborhoods require clear edges and restricted access. At the other end of the scale, "Ceiling Height Variety" observes that buildings with uniform ceilings are uncomfortable and recommends varying ceiling heights between large and small rooms to create different degrees of intimacy. In other words, the breviary is a designer's handbook.
  6. 6. A Pattern Language proved invaluable to nonarchitects building their own homes, and by 1980 Alexander, who was based in Berkeley, Calif., and leavened a mathematician's precision with Zen-like pronouncements, had become something of a guru in the youthful Whole Earth Catalog-influenced counterculture. His fellow architects, on the other hand, who didn't like seeing their art reduced to a formula, were ambivalent. There was also the question of style. The pattern language calls for architectural features such as sheltering roofs and small window panes, while Modernist design favors flat roofs and large sheets of glass. This anti-Modernist bias was confirmed by Alexander's next book, The Timeless Way of Building(1979), which was an overt and often devastating attack on modern construction techniques in general and on contemporary architecture in particular
  7. 7. Alexander argued that the standardized, mass-produced way in which buildings are designed and built today is wrongheaded, and to demonstrate an alternative he started to build himself—houses in Mexico, institutional buildings in Northern California, eventually an entire university campus in Japan —to date more than 200 projects. Alexander often uses decorative patterns derived from his intimate familiarity with Oriental carpets, which gives his buildings a handmade quality. While quite beautiful, his built work has received less attention than his books. Traditional in appearance—some of it reminds me of the Swedish painter/builder Carl Larsson —it is not witty enough for Postmodernists, not historic enough for die-hard Classicists, and too traditional for the architectural mainstream.
  8. 8. Conclusion 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.
  9. 9. References: References from internet 1.http://www.slate.com/articles/arts/architecture/2009/12/do_you_see_a_patter n.html 2.http://ammi.ir/artical/arts 3.http://www.academia.edu/7780186/Christopher_Alexander_and_a_Phenome nology_of_Wholeness_2015_forthcoming_ 4.http://www.rudi.net/node/317 5.http://www.academia.edu/11396555/IMITATION_OR_INNOVATION_STY LE_DECORATION_AND_SYNTAX_OF_GREEK_AND_CYPRIOT_POTT ERY_DURING_THE_GEOMETRIC_PERIOD
  10. 10. References: 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 University, Tehran. 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, C. (1979), “The Timeless Way of Building” , Oxford University Press, New York. 10- Brolin, Brent c., (1976), "Failure of Modern Architecture", Van No strand Reinhold Company, New York. 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.
  11. 11. Thanks for your attention

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