Friday, June 11, 2004
Organic Architecture
Alexandrian architectural theory points out the difference between architecture that is alive, and architecture that is dead. Having spend most of my life in America, the concept of living architecture seems a bit bizarre.

However, I have, recently, spent some amount of time in England (including at the time of this writing) and have come to discover the meaning behind Dr. Alexander's words.

At first, I was just "impressed" with how the countryside "felt". There was nothing specific to which I could attach such feelings, so I based them on such things as "tourist fever" and "nostalgia". While these were undoubtedly factors in my perception, I have come to realize, on this trip, that it is not the only cause.

This time, armed with the refreshed knowledge of Archtitectural Patterns, I see them often. Just as he says, it is an amazing ability to look at a building and provide a list of a dozen or so patterns that completely describe why the building appeals at a lower level of conciousness. I actually feel sad when I notice a building that fails to achieve the goal ("Oh dear. Plates of glass."). The reason the distinction is so obvious in England is that a number of buildings here were built before the modern "architectural revolution" in which the organic, living architectural patterns were finally defeated.

So, if you ever find yourself in England, or anywhere in Europe, look around. Examine the architecture. You will find an extant model of many of the most effective Architectural Patterns. If you are fortunate enough to live there, appreciate the daily exposure you have to these things; it is, undoubtedly, a part of your environment that makes you special.

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