Page C1.1 . 27 July 2005                     
ArchitectureWeek - Culture Department
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Alexander Centering

by Christopher Alexander

From his early Notes of the Synthesis of Form, to the bestselling A Pattern Language, to the recent four-volume The Nature of Order, over several decades Christopher Alexander has pushed intellectual boundaries with integrative approaches to design theory. We are pleased to present this excerpt, formatted according to the original and unedited at the author's request, in which Alexander describes a design process from the 1980s using the terms of his own theoretical framework. Editor


I shall now show how the creation of the site and volume plan for the Eishin Campus in Japan followed a similar but more complex sequence of structure-preserving transformations. The process had two components.

First system of centers: defined by the pattern language. The first component was a pattern language worked out by our team after extensive interviews with teachers and students, and then approved by the school as a whole in a general assembly meeting. The pattern language defined, in generic terms, which new centers ought to exist in the new campus Here are five very important centers defined by our pattern language:

1. ENTRANCE The entrance to the inner precinct begins at the outer boundary. At a key point in the outer boundary, there is a gate. This leads to an entrance street.

2. YARD Where the entrance street meets the inner boundary, there is a second gate leading to a public yard.

3. UNIVERSITY CENTER Beyond the public yard and through a third gate is the essential center of the university.   >>>

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This article is excerpted with permission from A Vision of a Living World: The Nature of Order, Book 3 by Christopher Alexander, published by the Center for Environmental Structure, Berkeley, California.



ArchWeek Image

One teacher's diagram showing the major centers defined by the pattern language. In diagrammatic form we see ENTRANCE, YARD, UNIVERSITY CENTER, HOMEBASE STREET, AND LAKE. The diagram shows how this teacher understood the way these main centers might fit together in an imaginary site plan.
Image: Center for Environmental Structure

ArchWeek Image

Diagram of the five key centers on the site: Entrance, Lake, Square, Path, Ridge.
Image: Center for Environmental Structure


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