Christopher Alexander has been a leading pioneer of academic research on architectural and urban design since the early 1960s. He is also a practicing architect and builder with a passion for creating and restoring life and beauty to our physical environment. In this essay I review, evaluate, and reflect on some of his particularly fruitful, promising, or problematic ideas. I will put forth some ideas of my own for clarification, and to indicate avenues for future research. I argue that Alexander’s notion of patterns (a verbal medium for capturing and conveying design knowledge in a systematic, reusable form) is in need of conceptual development along lines I suggest, even though Alexander downplayed the significance of patterns as he moved on to other theoretical ideas (mainly about aesthetics) later in his career. While I go into some detail about selected parts of Alexander’s work, the intended readership of this essay is not restricted to specialists. I have made an effort to provide guidance and background information to readers not already familiar with Alexander’s comprehensive body of theory.
- Christopher Alexander
- Pattern language
- Empirical adequady and completeness of of a pattern
- Philosophy of design
- Unification of art and science of architecture