|Skapinga av Adam, av Michelangelo Buonarroti (1475–1564)|
The builders of Florence, especially those building from about the year 1000 A.D. to 1500 A.D., lived and worked with an unshakable belief in God. As one looks at the works that came from their hands, God is everywhere: in the paintings now hanging in the Uffizi, in the Baptistery, in San Miniato, in the life and death of Beato Angelico living in his cell in the monastery of San Marco. For them, every stone was a gift to that unshakable belief in God they shared. It is the belief, the unshakable nature of the belief, its authenticity, and above all its solidity, which made it work effectively for them. We, in our time, need an authentic belief, a certainty, connected with the ultimate reaches of space and time -- which does the same for us. — Christopher Alexander, The Luminous Ground, side 42
|Utsyn mot elva Arno i Firenze. Kunstnar: Giuseppe Zocchi (1711-1767)|
|Barcode i Bjørvika, Oslo sin skinande nye tanngard mot fjorden, det er pengane som glinsar.|
My conclusion is that careful construction of the world, according to the principle that every center is made to be related to the true I of the maker, will result in a world which is practical, harmonious, functional. If this is true, astonishingly then, it would appear that the safest road to the creation of living structure is one in which people do what is most nearly in their hearts: that they make each part in such a way that it reflects their true feeling, in such a way that it makes them feel wholesome in themselves and is, in this sense, related in the deepest way to their own true I.
For someone educated in the 20th-century way of looking at the world, this is enigmatic, if not ridiculous. It means that a world constructed in the most personal and individual fashion, made by people who are searching deeply to follow the nature of their own true I, their own true selves, will be – in the most public, objective, and universal sense – a world which is functional, adequate and harmonious.
The enigma which arises, then, is that the process by which human beings create the world in their own image, gradually creates a living world, and this is – apparently – the best, and most efficient way in which a living world can be created. Of course, the phrase "in their own image" requires that it be the true self they are looking for; and implies that this larger process of building the world cannot be separated from each person’s personal search for the true self. — Christopher Alexander, The Luminous Ground, side 142
Å søkje Gud er å søkje sitt sanne eg. Å frata mennesket denne moglegheita, slik det moderne teknokratiet har gjort, og fremst mellom desse dei skandinaviske velferdsstatane, er å rive grunnen under heile mennesket sin eksistens. Når dei kallar oss frie menneske spottar dei oss, vi er bundne på hender og føter av teknokratiet, representert ved byråkratiet, korporasjonane og kanskje fremst av alle arkitektane. Er det noko rart vi har vorte likesæle til skaparverket og kvarandre når ingen av oss lenger veit eller langt mindre har lov til å skapa venleik? Du finn knapt ein stein i dag som er forma som ei gåve til Gud.
Kampen for venleiken er kampen for kjærleiken. Kven som kjem fyrst er her opplagt, venleiken er opphavet til kjærleiken. Det moderne mennesket er snart ute av stand til å elske noko som helst av di verda har vorte so meiningslaust stygg, forma som ho er av den rasjonelle modernismen. Styggskapen er i ferd med å kverkje oss. Kampen for venleiken er den viktigaste kampen verda står overfor.
Christopher Alexander har kome med ei ny bok om denne kampen, med tittelen The Battle for the Life and Beauty of the Earth: A Struggle between Two World-Systems. Eg vil la Alexanders gode ven Michael W. Mehaffy få avslutte med introduksjonen sin til boka:
A Phenomenological Interpretation of Biomimicry and its Potential Value for Sustainable Design
|Ein russisk økolandsby under bygging, frå Belgorod Oblas. Foto: Лобачев Владимир|
|Sentra styrkjer sentra, det er inkje mindre enn Guds auge som stirer mot oss.|
Les boka og bli med i denne kampen du òg. Og hugs, det er berre du som kan byggje med kjærleik!
The book is a fascinating case study of a remarkable project "from the trenches" - the authors' design and construction of the Eishin School campus near Tokyo, Japan. But it is, more broadly, a moving and compelling essay on what has happened to our built environment over the last century. It joins other cautionary books of recent years - Jane Jacobs' Dark Age Ahead comes to mind - warning that we have a choice, and indeed a struggle, if we want to avert an unfolding planetary disaster. The choice is between a more beautiful, more humane, and more sustainable basis for design, or a continuation of the status quo - a default option that looks increasingly untenable.
The principal author, Christopher Alexander, knows a little something about the subject of design, having played a major role in several design fields including software, urban planning and architecture. Indeed, he is widely regarded as one of the most influential design theorists and practitioners of the last century, as principal author of Notes on the Synthesis of Form, "A City is Not a Tree," the aforementioned A Pattern Language, and other landmarks. Here he offers concrete ideas about what will be required for a sustainable future, and his case study is an acid test, vividly illustrating the complex issues we face. His co-authors are his former student and close collaborator in the project, Hans Joachim Neis, and his wife and collaborator, Maggie Moore Alexander.
The construction of the remarkable project at the heart of the book, the Eishin School, is richly illustrated with more than 200 color photographs. The school is certainly a masterpiece - winner of the "Best Building in Japan" award by the Japanese Institute of Architects - but more than that it is an extraordinary piece of geography, a small town of almost 30 buildings set in a beautiful landscape of some 20 acres.
Alexander is first and foremost an architect, but the discussion here goes far beyond architecture and into the nature of technology itself. Alexander points out that at heart, technology is simply "the knowledge of making" - and as mounting evidence suggests, something in the way we make things in the modern world has gone deeply awry. To repair it - as we can and must - we will need to change the fundamental way we go about designing, organizing, and paying for, the making of our world.
There is a fundamental difference, Alexander points out, between the processes that give rise to living structures - adaptation and differentiation - and the processes that we have put to work in relatively recent history to make our modern world: especially, the standardization and replication inherent in mass production. We have made an entirely new global production system from these approaches, he says, which he dubs "System-B"; and with it we have almost entirely replaced an earlier system based upon local adaptation, which he calls "System-A."
While we have gained in quantity, Alexander argues, we have lost immeasurably in quality, and as a result, in the very sustainability of our built world. We have created a world of things that are abstract, and therefore disconnected from life - and the result has been a slow but catastrophic deterioration of environmental quality. For architects, this means we must recover the practical means to ensure that the environments we construct have the crucial capacity to provide life-giving situations - the purpose of all architecture in the end.
A few architects might find this book off-putting, since Alexander (a highly decorated and accomplished architect himself) clearly has no patience for the willful, image-based architecture that serves as cover for the rapacious industrialization of the built environment. Nor is he a cheerleader for the artistic achievements of a nihilistic avant-garde (as his famous debate with "starchitect" Peter Eisenman some years ago demonstrates).
Fortunately, a new generation is showing it is eager to challenge this insular orthodoxy, and groups like Architects for Humanity are putting a new focus on socially and environmentally relevant architecture and construction. Others are pushing a similarly holistic, reformist agenda in other areas (tactical urbanists, permaculturists, open-source innovators and others) and Alexander seems to have become an inspiration for many of them.
In the interest of full disclosure, I should note that I am one of them, as well as a friend and collaborator of Alexander over the years, along with many others. I did not have a role in this book, other than to make some minor comments, as many others did.
In the end, this book is not so much about architecture and construction, but about technology, and about a way forward for civilization - told from the perspective of an insider who is also a fierce critic and, perhaps for some in the old guard, traitor to the cause. Some may find Alexander's David-and-Goliath ideas quixotic, even grandiose. But the story documented in this book, like his previous achievements, shows otherwise. This is a guy who has always been concerned at heart with the same practical issue: how we make things, and how they (and we) can, in a real and practical sense, be made healthier and more whole.
Out of that essential quest, Alexander's ideas have been astonishingly fruitful, leading directly (if not always recognizably) to pattern languages, design patterns, Wiki, Agile software and other major innovations. In considering the reforms we now so urgently require, it seems these are just the kinds of practical new human-centered technologies that we will need. — Michael W. Mehaffy
A Phenomenological Interpretation of Biomimicry and its Potential Value for Sustainable Design
A Fearful Symmetry av Mark Anthony Signorelli
Destructive Creation av Theodore Dalrymple