Six years or so ago when I googled Chris Alexander came up with all these sites and references in the software designers realm. I wandered off and saw myself mentioning this to friends saying – how interesting this was. It was not usual for nyone to wander into design for methodological insights. It was usually us wandering out into other fields looking for the latest in-thing or fad. We were starting to get the beginnings of our foray into software and digital artefacts – sounding like the arts and crafts people – “let designers enter into the digital realm to make it a bit more aesthetic ( though how you can do this to the microsoft products is beyond me) and a bit more ergonomic”. And as we know so it was.
When they talked of a redoing of services – we asked for some of that action too.
This is Brian Eno getting into CAlexander. How curious.
I heard Brian Eno mention Mr. Alexander’s writings in an interview on KPFA in Berkeley in 1988. BE talked about finding Alexander’s thinking and writing quite fascinating, even to non-architecture oriented folks. A few years later I saw some reference to Chris Alexander on Usenet and thought maybe I should explore further. But I never bothered. Then last week my girlfriend saw something on TV on Mr. Alexander, possibly a Nova episode, and she was fascinated enough to seek out two books by him. I’ve only had a few minutes to browse one of the books, but I think I can see why Eno would find it of interest. One of the books defines architecture and communities as a language, composed of patterns. It takes an approach of looking at what composes a community and breaks down 235 elements or patterns that make a community or design function in a home or building. It even goes off into a lot of philosophical directions, covering topics from sewage to defining elemnts of a comfortable workspace. One pattern focuses on the importance of the bedroom for a couple. Another suggests that children love cave-like spaces to play in and suggests building such into nooks under staircases, etc.