by Nili Portugali
The mechanistic worldview underlying contemporary architecture separates elements and creates an environment of autonomous fragments. The result is cities like Brasilia in Brazil, Chandigarth in India, the satellite towns in England and the new neighborhoods around Jerusalem, where the structured disconnection between the house and the street, the street and the neighborhood, the neighborhood and the city arouses a feeling of detachment and alienation.
In order to change the feeling of the environment and to create places and buildings we really feel "at home" in and want to live in, what is needed is not a change of style or fashion, but a transformation of this mechanistic worldview.
Christopher Alexander’s basic assumption is that behind human architecture are universal and eternal codes common to us all as human beings, and that there is absolute truth underlying beauty and comfort. My planning process based on this assumption and on the way things actually exist on a site generates a spiritual experience shared by people no matter what culture they come from.
The holistic-organic approach that has been for many years at the forefront of the scientific thought in general and as implemented in my architectural work in particular regards the socio-physical environment as a system or a dynamic whole, the existence of which depends on the proper, ever-changing interrelations among the parts. Moreover, the creation and existence of each part depends on the interrelations between that part and the system.
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This article is excerpted from The Act of Creation and the Spirit of a Place. A Holistic-Phenomenological Approach to Architecture by Nili Portugali, with permission of the publisher, Edition Axel Menges GmbH.