The writings of Christopher Alexander form a great part of our studio philosophy. The Nature of Order, Alexander's seminal essay on the art of building and the nature of the universe, is a constant source of inspiration and guidance in our search for meaning and beauty.
Throughout this site, we quote Alexander and reflect on his writings, ideas, and philosophy. The implications of his Fifteen Fundamental Properties are of vital importance to our every design effort. His principles of strong centers and unfolding wholeness are cornerstones of our studio consciousness and character, and at best, of our work.
What Is 'Wholeness'?
Wholeness is our worldview. It shapes how we act as people, conceive our work, organize our activities, and interact with the natural world, our built environment and our community.
Wholeness is a way of saying ‘the interconnectedness of all things’, just a bit more elegant. Of all the forces that might have shaped the way we do our work, Wholeness rises above competing concerns, systems, schools of thought and philosophies. We have gleaned our understanding of wholeness from a wide variety of sources: Goethe, Louis Sullivan, Bahá’u’lláh, David Bohm, Aldo Leopold, Henri Bortoft, nearly every indigenous culture on the planet, young children, and maybe most of all, Christopher Alexander.
Wholeness is manifested in a wide variety of ways within our practice:
- Employ an ‘unfolding’ rather than an ‘assembling’ process
- Inhibit undue conceptualizing
- Encourage whole brain approach where intuition balances abstract thought
- Write Patterns
- Avoid the ‘program-as-bottleneck’
- Set the stage for a smooth unfolding design process
- Keep all in one room
- Foster an open, informal communication
- Minimize hierarchy
- Emphasize horizontal structure
- Include as a design collaborator
- Blur distinctions between client and studio
- Avoid professional language, ‘arch-speak’
- Recognize that cultural and natural environments are co-evolving
- Promote regenerative development
- Respect nature as an extension of ethics (The Land Ethic, Aldo Leopold)
- Think past the property lines
- Blur/demolish the boundaries between design and construction
- Include builder as a significant member of design team
- Foster a creative job site where craftsmen contribute to the design
- Utilize local materials
- See building as the extension of a local economy