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Hardcover The Timeless Way of Building Book


ISBN13: 9780195024029

The Timeless Way of Building

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Book Overview

The theory of architecture implicit in our world today, Christopher Alexander believes, is bankrupt. More and more people are aware that something is deeply wrong. Yet the power of present-day ideas is so great that many feel uncomfortable, even afraid, to say openly that they dislike what is happening, because they are afraid to seem foolish, afraid perhaps that they will be laughed at.

Now, at last, there is a coherent theory which describes...

Customer Reviews

5 ratings

A Powerful Way of Thinking

Alexander's "A Timeless Way of Building" is a philosophical treatise which has informed my thinking profoundly. Without any formal training or interest in architecture, per se, this book has opened a world of awe for me. Awe of language, of systems, of people. It almost reads as a spiritual text - but with the credibility afforded only to those who clearly address specific content (architecture and city planning, in this case). Alexander's writing is clean and precise. His ideas are powerful, they are more true today than in '79 and in more domains than architecture. I recommend this to anyone who is curious about how systems work.

this book blew me away

I bought this book because i am about to build a house. Coincidentally, i am also a senior software engineer and very familiar with design patterns in my field - i use them every day. They work very well for programming computers. This book, however, literally takes the concept of living patterns to architecture, and, by extension of the act of creation, to life itself.At the same time as being a great philosophical read, it's also a handy guide to building a house. Bonus points for the author: The book can be read in 15 minutes (reading the "detailed table of contents"), in one hour (reading only the headlines), or in the full. These modes of reading the book come from the author's emphasis of the whole over the parts, e.g. the whole is more than the sum of its parts. I am not entirely sure that, as the author promises, i will now be able to go and build a house, without drawing a plan... but that this idealistic goal is in practice hard to attain does not make the incredibly deep insights in this book any less true or any less practical. Like another reader said - the book changed the way i think about... everything!Patterns as described in this book are far more refined than anything we use in computer science, and that he sees them in a much broader light. The central grandiose idea is the one of complete interconnectedness of the patterns - the whole, which is more than the sum of its parts.

Changes how you look at everything

``The Timeless Way of Building'' explains the idea of patterns in architecture. A pattern is a way to solve a specific problem, by bringing two conflicting forces into balance.Here's a very simple example of a pattern. When a room has a window with a view, the window becomes a focal point: people are attracted to the window and want to look through it. The furniture in the room creates a second focal point: everyone is attracted toward whatever point the furniture aims them at (usually the center of the room or a TV). This makes people feel uncomfortable. They want to look out the window, and toward the other focus at the same time. If you rearrange the furniture, so that its focal point becomes the window, then everyone will suddenly notice that the room is much more ``comfortable''.I applied that pattern to my own living room, by moving the TV under the window and rearranging the furniture, and I was amazed what a difference it made! That's a very simple example, and there are literally hundreds more in this book and its sequel. Simply reading them is fascinating; it will convince you that you can make your own home into something as wonderful in its own way as the Taj Mahal--which is Alexander's whole point.In fact, the book's main idea is much more powerful than that. It applies to almost every aspect of life, not just to architecture. When a situation makes us unhappy, it is usually because we have two conflicting goals, and we aren't balancing them properly. Alexander's idea is to identify those ``conflicting forces'', and then find a solution which brings them into harmony. It's a simple concept, but once you appreciate it you realize how deep it really is.This is definitely one of the best books on my shelf. It has really changed the way I look at...everything.

The first step to becoming a designer

This book is maybe more popular with computer guys than with architecture people, but it's applicable to all sorts of fields. It's about how you construct a design given a problem and a set of forces acting upon it. I have long worked this way in computing, but since reading the book I have been applying the same techniques to designing the garden in my back yard. I'm sure there's lots more I need to know about design, but I am feeling inspired and confident.

Only book in both my top 5 personal & professional list

I am a software development consultant and trainer specializing in design patterns (to give you some perspective). Design patterns are the translation of Christopher's work to software development and involves finding recurring patterns in software development (forgive me for the oversimplified definition). This book has given me incredible insights into building software in ways previously beyond my skills. However, to be honest, I think I may appreciate the esthetics of the book even more. It is so enjoyable to read. I recommend this book to my students, associates and friends all the time and I get many, many "thank you"s for doing so. A note about reading it. Christopher recommends reading the italicized sections if you don't have time to read the whole book as opposed to just reading the first few chapters. This gives you a sense of the entire book as opposed to only the first few chapters in detail. I suggest reading the book through this way first anyway (italicized sections only), and then going back and reading the entire thing. It will take a couple of hours, but then when you go back and read it normally, you will understand and enjoy it much better.
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