A Foreshadowing Of 21st Century Art

I got my hands another Christopher Alexander book a few weeks ago, A Foreshadowing Of 21st Century Art. I got this one through inter-library loan, however. In part because I was a little disappointed with The Oregon Experiment, and in part because this one is rather more expensive. When I got it, I found out why. The book is large, has color on many pages, and is bound in a patterned cloth.

For that last part to really make sense, it helps to know that the book is about rugs. Yes, rugs. Christopher Alexander has been collecting carpets for quite some time, specifically very old, usually turkish, carpets. He does this because he believes that these carpets demonstrate long forgotten principles of design that he hopes to rediscover, and incorporate into his buildings.

In particular, it is about the principle of centers, an idea which he has also found at the heart of a lot of the patterns in his pattern language. A center can be the literal center of some shape, the point where lines cross, or can be created by a point or depression. Powerful centers are composed of other centers, which are composed of yet more centers, and so on down to the tiniest detail.

Another cute trick is that the familiar list of ‘other books by’ in the first few pages lists the next three books that Christopher Alexander plans to publish. Furthermore, this book, published in 1993, makes repeated references to the unpublished manuscript of the next book (which has since become four) The Nature of Order, the publication of which was recently pushed back to July of this year. ;^)

Posted Saturday, February 1st, 2003 under Review.

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