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Christopher Alexander quotes
It is not possible to make great buildings, or great towns, beautiful places, places where you feel yourself, places where you feel alive, except by following this way. And, as you will see, this way will lead anyone who looks for it to buildings which are themselves as ancient in their form, as the trees and hills, and as our faces are.
But in practice master plans fail - because they create totalitarian order, not organic order. They are too rigid; they cannot easily adapt to the natural and unpredictable changes that inevitably arise in the life of a community.
Once you understand this way, you will be able to make your room alive; you will be able to design a house together with your family; a garden for your children; places where you can work; beautiful terraces where you can sit and dream.
The structure of life I have described in buildings - the structure which I believe to be objective - is deeply and inextricably connected with the human person, and with the innermost nature of human feeling.
To seek the timeless way we must first know the quality without a name. There is a central quality which is the root criterion of life and spirit in a man, a town, a building, or a wilderness. This quality is objective and precise, but it cannot be named.
There is one timeless way of building. It is a thousand years old, and the same today as it has ever been. The great traditional buildings of the past, the villages and tents and temples in which man feels at home, have always been made by people who were very close to the center of this way.
The more living patterns there are in a place - a room, a building, or a town - the more it comes to life as an entirety, the more it glows, the more it has that self-maintaining fire which is the quality without a name.
The buildings that I build very often have a dreamlike reality. I don't mean by that they have a fantasy quality at all, in fact quite the reverse. They contain in some degree the ingredients that give dreams their power... stuff that's very close to us.
This is a fundamental view of the world. It says that when you build a thing you cannot merely build that thing in isolation, but must repair the world around it, and within it, so that the larger world at that one place becomes more coherent, and more whole; and the thing which you make takes its place in the web of nature, as you make it.
Nowadays, the process of growth and development almost never seems to manage to create this subtle balance between the importance of the individual parts, and the coherence of the environment as a whole. One or the other always dominates.
A building or a town will only be alive to the extent that it is governed in a timeless way. It is a process which brings order out of nothing but ourselves; it cannot be attained, but it will happen of its own accord, if we will only let it.