Christopher Alexander

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Works Eishin School, at Tokyo, Japan, 1985.

Houses in Mexicali, at Mexicali, Mexico, 1975 to 1976.


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Christopher Alexander

(b. Vienna, Austria 1936)

Cristopher Alexander was born in Vienna, Austria in 1936. He graduated with degrees in mathematics and architecture from Cambridge University and with a Ph.d in Architecture from Harvard University. For his doctoral dissertation, Alexander developed a computer program that attempted to analyze and create new environments based on logical programmatic analysis. This interest in creating new environments would mark all of his future works.

Eventually his confidence in mathematical methods as a basis for better design declined and he utilized empirical research to create patterns. Disenchanted with computer-driven design, but more than ever interested in what made certain places work both spatially and psychologically, Alexander developed a theory of "fit" in terms of what he called "patterns". This theory suggested a means for creating successful places that blended application of logic with collective experience.

Embodied in the books "A Pattern Language" and "The Oregon Experiment", pattern theory inspired many, but also failed to consistently lead to beautiful buildings. In the late 1980's Alexander started to develop a further theoretical basis for good design based on a careful definition of "wholeness", or a kind of deep and abiding beauty.

Although most of his buildings have effectively supported his theories, Alexander has mainly influenced the architectural profession through his writings and teaching rather than through his completed buildings. Due to a softening in his stance, his critics now accuse him of embracing ornamentation and craft at the expense of modern technology.

Muriel Emmanuel. Contemporary Architects. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1980. ISBN 0-312-16635-4. NA680.C625. p25-26.

Resources Sources on Christopher Alexander

"Alexander Centering", by Christopher Alexander, ArchitectureWeek No. 249, 2005.0727, pC1-1.

Books by Christopher Alexander, in Chronological Order

Notes on the Synthesis of Form . Christopher W. Alexander. Harvard Univ Press (June 1970). ISBN 0674627512. — An early mathematical approach to the logic of good design. Available at

A Pattern Language : Towns, Buildings, Construction . Christopher Alexander, Sara Ishikawa, Murray Silverstein. Oxford University Press (1977). ISBN 0195019199. — Perhaps Alexander's most widely admired and quoted book. A really valuable resource for refining and inspiring beautiful and responsible design and good design thinking, at every level of scale. Available at

Timeless Way of Building . Christopher Alexander. Oxford University Press (1979). ISBN 0195024028. — Available at

The Production of Houses. Christopher Alexander with Howard Davis, Julio Martinez, Donald Corner. Oxford University Press, May 1984. ISBN 0-1950-3223-3.   Available at

A New Theory of Urban Design (Center for Environmental Structure Series, Vol 6) . Christopher Alexander (Editor), Hajo Neis, Artemis Anninou (Contributor), Ingr King. Oxford University Press (November 1987). ISBN 0195037537. — Available at

A Foreshadowing of 21st Century Art : The Color and Geometry of Very Early Turkish Carpets (Center for Environmental Structure, Vol 7) . Christopher Alexander. Oxford University Press (November 1993). ISBN 0195208668. — Available at   Find books about Christopher Alexander

Search the RIBA architecture library catalog for more references on Christopher Alexander

Web Resources Links on Christopher Alexander

PatternLanguage.comA new internet endeavor from Alexander & Co.

Christopher Alexander at ArchiplanetFind, add, and edit info at the all-buildings collaboration

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