Experiments by Roger Ulrich showed that a simple view out to a natural scene conveyed a range of measurable health benefits to recovering patients.
The British Museum with its fractal hierarchies and sculptured pediment is just as biophilic as the garden in front. The two elements -- built structure and natural structure -- reinforce each other to create a coherent, complex, and healing environment.
Many of the best-loved and well-used public spaces, like this one in Oslo, contain splendid examples of biophilia, including vegetation, water, and natural forms and materials.
Time evolution of the cellular automaton generates global order from local rules.
The evolution of the string of cells depends upon the previous state, beginning with the initial state. If we let it evolve long enough, the pattern will grow to infinite length
A complex fractal structure emerges when we adjoin all evolved states of the string of cells.
Continuing to evolve, the cellular automaton generates the Sierpinski fractal triangle. The longer we let the automaton run, the more levels of coherent structure we get.
A crucial result follows when we vary the initial conditions. Instead of beginning from just one black cell in the middle of the string, let’s start with the simple pattern: B-B-W-W-B.: The same cellular automaton with different initial condition generates an entirely distinct complex configuration.
Though overshadowed by his written work, Alexander's built work has been prodigious, with some 300 buildings around the world. Above, a title image from a 2009 exhibit at the National Building Museum in Washington, D.C.
Scientists have long been fascinated by the adaptive morphogenesis of organisms within ecosystems, and have recently begun to explain this generative process.: Above is a painting by the 19th century naturalist Ernst Haeckel, who was astonished by the endless variety and complexity of such creatures.
One of Haeckel's many drawings of the skeletons of radiolarians, tiny one-celled marine organisms with fantastic varieties of form.
A morfogênese de um trilobite, um antropode que apareceu durante a explosão Cambriana, mostrando uma seqüência de geração e transformação tipo-padrão.
Patterns provide information about a design configuration that solves a recurrent problem -- such as the geometry of a walking network, or a path shape.
An example of a simple hierarchy: a grocery list
An example of a much more complex kind of language: William Blake's famous poem "The Sick Rose" -- illustrated personally by Blake and his wife Catherine.
Christopher Alexander: Judo Hall, Eishin Campus, Tokyo
Step-wise: Perform one adaptive step at a time.: Here we run into a problem with modern design education, which is based almost exclusively on perfunctory assembly and composition following a “program”, and then a nearly magical addition of “creative inspiration” all at once. This is, after all, what famous contemporary architects are thought to do, following the accepted myth of intuitive genius. It is very difficult to convince a young architecture student, for example, to design with one adaptive step at a time.
Reversible: Test design decisions using models; “trial and error”; if it doesn’t work, un-do it.: Another deep problem here, revealing the inadequacy of present-day design training: how does a practitioner judge whether a design “works” or not before it’s built? The only means of doing so is to use criteria of coherence and mutual adaptivity (or “co-adaptivity”), not abstract or formal (static) design. Otherwise, an architect has no means of judging if an individual design step has indeed led closer to an adaptive solution. As far as actually undoing a step because it leads away from wholeness, however, that is anathema to current image-based design thinking!
Structure-preserving: Each step builds upon what’s already there.: This has been the theoretical and philosophical underpinning of all of Alexander’s (and our) work. The most complex, yet adaptive and successful designs arise out of a sequence of co-adaptive steps and adjustments that preserve the existing wholeness. On the other hand, designs that arise all at once are for the most part simplistic, non-adaptive, and dysfunctional. A trivial algorithm cannot generate living structure. And even a single step away from wholeness can derail the system.
Design from weakness: Each step improves coherence.: Again, part of the same fundamental problem we already mentioned: how to identify the precise location where an evolving design happens to be “weak”. This can only be done on the basis of adaptivity and coherence, otherwise one risks privileging a non-adaptive component that looks “exciting” instead of sacrificing it to create an improved overall coherence. The dysfunctional Achilles Heel of many a contemporary design may make them photograph well!
New from existing: Emergent structure combines what is already there into new form.: As in the development of an embryo, or successive design improvements of a computer chip, a functionally complex system evolves through cumulative steps, changing and getting better and more complex and thus acquiring more advanced capabilities. We cannot emphasize sufficiently that designing from evolving wholeness will introduce features—asymmetries, symmetries, connections, new scales—that are inconceivable within an assembly approach to design.
Christopher Alexander: Interior of the Great Hall, Eishin Campus, Tokyo
Christopher Alexander: College Building, Eishin Campus, Tokyo