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The Nature of Order, Book 4: The Luminous Ground

An Essay on the Art of Building and The Nature of the Universe

Christopher Alexander (author)

ISBN: 9780972652940

Publication Date: Jun 2004

Format: Hardback

Includes hundreds of photographic examples of buildings, public places, streets, rooms and gardens, most built by Alexander and his colleagues, in a great variety of cultures, showing how buildings and details governed by living process will be connected to human feeling, and what shape they must have.
£54.95

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  • Full Description
  • More Information
  • Table of Contents
  • Author Biography
  • Customer Reviews
Christopher Alexander's series of ground-breaking books – including A Pattern Language and The Timeless Way of Building – have pointed to fundamental truths of the way we build, revealing what gives life and beauty and true functionality to our buildings and towns. Now, in The Nature of Order, Alexander explores the properties of life itself, highlighting a set of well-defined structures present in all order – and in all life – from micro-organisms and mountain ranges to good houses and vibrant communities.

The foundations of modern scientific thought are firmly rooted in a conception that the universe is a machinelike entity, a play of baubles, machines, trinkets. To this day, our real daily experience of ourselves has no clear place in science. It is little wonder that a machinelike world-view has supported the deadly architecture of the last century. This mechanistic thinking and the consequent investment-oriented tracts of houses, condominiums and offices have dehumanized our cities and our lives. How are spirit, soul, emotion, feeling to be introduced into a building, or a street, or a development project, in modern times?

The Luminous Ground, the fourth book of The Nature of Order, contains what is perhaps the deepest revelation in the four-volume work. Here is a geometrical view of space and matter seamlessly connected to our own private, personal experience as sentient and knowing creatures. This is not merely an emotional appendix to the scientific theory of the other books. It is at the core of the entire work, and is rooted in the fact that our two sides – our analytical thinking selves, and our vulnerable emotional personalities as human beings – are coterminous. They must be harnessed at one and the same time if we are ever to really make sense of what is around us, and be able to create a living world.

Alexander breaks away completely from the one-sided mechanical model of buildings or neighbourhoods as mere assemblages of technically generated interchangeable parts. He shows us conclusively that a spiritual, emotional, and personal basis must underlie every act of building. His buildings and works of art demonstrate in detail what he means. And then, in the middle of the book, comes the linchpin of the work: a one-hundred page chapter on colour, which lavishly illustrates and dramatically conveys the way that consciousness and spirit can make their appearance in the world.

Altogether, present throughout this fourth and final book, is a new cosmology uniting matter and consciousness: consciousness inextricably joined to the substrate of matter, present in all matter, and providing all wholeness with its material, cognitive, and spiritual underpinnings. This view, though radical, conforms to our most ordinary daily intuitions. It may provide a path for those contemporary scientists who are beginning to see consciousness as the underpinning of all matter, and thus as a proper object of scientific study.

Taken as a whole, the four books create a sweeping new conception of the nature of things which is both objective and structural (hence part of science) – and also personal (in that it shows how and why things have the power to touch the human heart). A step has been taken, through which these two domains – the domain of geometrical structure and the feeling it creates – kept separate during four centuries of scientific though from 1600 to 2000, have finally been united.

"The Nature of Order constitutes the backbone of "Building Beauty: Ecologic Design & Construction Process", an initiative aimed at radically reforming architecture education, with the emphasis of making as a way to access a transformative vision of the world. The 15 fundamental properties of life guide our work and have given us much more than a set of solutions. The Nature of Order has given us the framework in which we can search and build up our own solutions.

"In order to be authentically sustainable, buildings and places have to be cared for and loved over generations. Beautiful buildings and places are more likely to be loved, and they become more beautiful, and loved, through the attention given to them over time. Beauty is therefore, not a luxury, or an option, it includes and transcends technological innovation, and is a necessary requirement for a truly sustainable culture."
 
Dr. Sergio Porta, International Director, Building Beauty (www.buildingbeauty.org)
Professor of Urban Design, Director of Urban Design Studies Unit, and Director of Masters in Urban Design, University of Strathclyde


Reviews

"...Alexander's approach presents a fundamental challenge to us and our style-obsessed age. It suggests that beautiful form can come about only through a process that is meaningful to people..." – Thomas Fisher, Former Editor, Progressive Architecture

"Alexander's genetic scripts are likely to... play a role so fundamental in the future,that their widespread use cannot even be imagined today. This will change the world as effectively as the advent of printing changed the world." – Doug Carlston, Co-founder, Broderbund Software, Founder & CEO, icPlanet.com

"...I can think of no one – certainly no one in the last thirty or so years – who has produced a deeper, more profoundly meaningful, visionary and lasting body of work that both unifies and transcends science and spirituality, than Christopher Alexander." – Andy Ilachinsky, Theoretical Physicist

"Five hundred years is a long time, and I don't expect that many of the people I interview will be known in the year 2500. Alexander may be an exception." – David Creelman, Author, Interviewer, and Editor, HR Magazine

"...I believe Alexander is likely to be remembered most of all, in the end, for having produced the first credible proof of the existence of God..." – Eric Buck, Department of Philosophy, University of Kentucky
  • PART ONE
  • 1. Our Present Picture of the Universe.
  • 2. Clues from the History of Art.
  • 3. The Existence of an "I".
  • 4. The Ten Thousand Beings.
  • 5. The Practical Matter of Forging a Living Center.
  • MID-BOOK APPENDIX: Recapitulation of the Argument.
  • PART TWO: The Blazing One
  • 7. Color and Inner Light.
  • 8. The Goal of Tears.
  • 9. Making Wholeness Heals the Maker.
  • 10. Pleasing Yourself.
  • 11. The Face of God.
Christopher Alexander is a builder, craftsman, general contractor, architect, painter, and teacher. He taught from 1963 to 2002 as Professor of Architecture at the University of California, Berkeley, and is now Professor Emeritus. He has spent his life running construction projects, experimenting with new building methods and materials, and crafting carefully articulated buildings – all to advance the idea that people can build environments in which they will thrive. Acting on his deeply held conviction that, as a society, we must recover the means by which we can build and maintain healthy living environments, he has lived and worked in many cultures, and built buildings all over the world. Making neighborhoods, building-complexes, buildings, balustrades, columns, ceilings, windows, tiles, ornaments, models and mockups, paintings, furniture, castings and carvings – all this has been his passion, and is the cornerstone from which his paradigm-changing principles have been derived.

Professor Alexander is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He received his doctorate in Architecture from Harvard University after completing degrees at Cambridge University in mathematics and architecture. He is the winner of the first medal for research awarded by the American Institute of Architects, a member of the Swedish Royal Academy, recipient of the Distinguished Professor Award from the American Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture, and the recipient of the Vincent Scully Prize awarded by the National Building Museum in the US, among many other prestigious awards throughout his career.

Christopher Alexander writes "I believe we are on the threshold of a new era when the proper understanding of the deep questions of space, as they are embodied in architecture will play a revolutionary role in the way we see the world and will do for the world view of the 21st and 22nd centuries, what physics did for the 19th and 20th."

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