Christopher Alexander showed us that beauty can be investigated in nature, in things that are made and built, and in our collective and individual selves, in a way that leads us to understand and enhance wholeness. All of this he pursued on the basis of objective physical evidence. Also, Alexander showed that the unfolding geometry of beauty can be sought with practical means that demonstrate its connections with all of life.
A new Master program in “Building Beauty: Experience of Ecologic Design and Construction Process” is now assembling at the University Suor Orsola Benincasa in Naples, Italy, with the mission of pursuing beauty through a new model of architectural education inspired by Alexander, with colleagues of the Center for Environmental Structure (CES), the organization Alexander established for his professional and educational work.
In this paper we introduce the context of “radical” traditions of architectural education and culture from the 1960s and the current debate in the United Kingdom and the US; we then present the program’s general vision, that merges a truly holistic practice of building with nature and the community, with a research/evidence based approach to knowledge; finally we focus on pedagogic principles aimed to align with, and support, such vision; the proposed pedagogy covers both teaching and assessment, by introducing a constructionist approach implemented through an original Project-Based Learning model updated with latest fundamentals of Agile Project Management.