CHRISTOPHER ALEXANDER: The thing that strikes me about your friend's building -- if I understood you correctly -- is that somehow in some intentional way it is not harmonious. That is, Moneo intentionally wants to produce an effect of disharmony. Maybe even of incongruity.A debate — old, but still relevant — between architects Christopher Alexander (whose new book The Battle for the Life and Beauty of the Earth depicts the struggle between his worldview and Eisenman's at length) and Peter Eisenman (who here discusses his frustrations with liberals and the avant-garde).
PETER EISENMAN: That is correct.
CHRISTOPHER ALEXANDER: I find that incomprehensible. I find it very irresponsible. I find it nutty. I feel sorry for the man. I also feel incredibly angry because he is fucking up the world.
Legendary architect-philosopher Christopher Alexander delivers a fascinating lecture at Berkeley, in which he criticizes "modular" design and offers a radical new vision of architecture's relation to nature. Alexander is best known for A Pattern Language, which aimed to make buildings and towns more "alive" through a series of pleasing and comfortable patterns (five sample patterns can be found here). His most recent work, the four-part The Nature of Order, theorizes that life, whether organic or inorganic, emerges from a single simple process, which can be found on page 4 of Amazon's preview of the third volume. In the first volume Alexander lists fifteen properties that make a structure whole. Also worth reading: Alexander's classic essay A City is not a Tree.
Nikos Salingaros is a mathematics professor and architecture theorist. His career has crossed disciplines: after starting out as a painter, Salingaros earned a Ph.D. in theoretical physics and published work in mathematics and physics. In 1983 Salingaros helped edit Christopher Alexander's book The Nature of Order (here are Salingaros' notes on the book), and thereafter began a career as a noted architecture theorist in his own right. Salingaros is an advocate for "new urbanism" in architecture, and he champions the ideas of architect Léon Krier (the "godfather of new urbanism") with the "pattern language" theory of Christopher Alexander (wiki). The excellent arts blog 2Blowhards conducted a fascinating five-part interview with Salingaros: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. Salingaros just published a new book, A Theory of Architecture (2Blowhards discusses it here) with a preface written by HRH the Prince of Wales (wiki).
A WEBSITE DEVOTED TO REBUILDING THE EARTH. Christopher Alexander is about to publish the long awaited The Nature of Order. At the OOPSLA 1996 conference he proposed "a view of programming as the natural genetic infrastructure of a living world"and asked the help of the software community to take over the profession of architecture and to generate tools that would enable us once again to create a living built environment. The patternlanguage.com site has not been the genesis bomb I was hoping it would be but it's early days yet.