Notes on the Synthesis of Form by Christopher AlexanderNotes on the Synthesis of Form by Christopher Alexander

Notes on the Synthesis of Form

byChristopher Alexander

Paperback | January 1, 1964

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"These notes are about the process of design: the process of inventing things which display new physical order, organization, form, in response to function." This book, opening with these words, presents an entirely new theory of the process of design.

In the first part of the book, Mr. Alexander discusses the process by which a form is adapted to the context of human needs and demands that has called it into being. He shows that such an adaptive process will be successful only if it proceeds piecemeal instead of all at once. It is for this reason that forms from traditional unselfconscious cultures, molded not by designers but by the slow pattern of changes within tradition, are so beautifully organized and adapted. When the designer, in our own self-conscious culture, is called on to create a form that is adapted to its context he is unsuccessful, because the preconceived categories out of which he builds his picture of the problem do not correspond to the inherent components of the problem, and therefore lead only to the arbitrariness, willfulness, and lack of understanding which plague the design of modern buildings and modern cities.

In the second part, Mr. Alexander presents a method by which the designer may bring his full creative imagination into play, and yet avoid the traps of irrelevant preconception. He shows that, whenever a problem is stated, it is possible to ignore existing concepts and to create new concepts, out of the structure of the problem itself, which do correspond correctly to what he calls the subsystems of the adaptive process. By treating each of these subsystems as a separate subproblem, the designer can translate the new concepts into form. The form, because of the process, will be well-adapted to its context, non-arbitrary, and correct.

The mathematics underlying this method, based mainly on set theory, is fully developed in a long appendix. Another appendix demonstrates the application of the method to the design of an Indian village.

Title:Notes on the Synthesis of FormFormat:PaperbackDimensions:224 pages, 8.25 × 5.5 × 0 inPublished:January 1, 1964Publisher:Harvard

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0674627512

ISBN - 13:9780674627512

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Rated 4 out of 5 by from Superb and Challenging For those who consider themselves designers, for those of us who work with designers, or for those who are interested in design, this is a fundamental series of essays. The considerations, the components, the processes can be applied to virtually ANY realm of design - aesthetic, architectural, software, social or business systems; all can benefit. As you struggle with some of the more challenging concepts presented here, you realize it is because he is illuminating either a framework or an approach that you had not considered before - and that could enhance both your understanding and your results. If, on the other hand, you don't find any intellectual challenge in this book at all, it's very possible you are not giving your work the depth of attention it requires.
Date published: 2013-08-03
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Notes on the synthesis of form If you are an architect, designer, engineer this book will change your way to address a problem. Although written in the seventies, it is still very actual. The theme: Creativity, dealing with conflictual design criteria, introducing a systematic approach in the design process. By the author of " a pattern language" and antecedent to it. Highly recommended.
Date published: 1998-11-21

Table of Contents

1. Introduction: The Need for Rationality

Part One

2. Goodness of Fit

3. The Source of Good Fit

4. The Unselfconscious Process

5. The Selfconscious Process

Part Two

6. The Program

7. The Realization of the Program

8. Definitions

9. Solution


Appendix 1. A Worked Example

Appendix 2. Mathematical Treatment of Decomposition


Editorial Reviews

An important book for the urban designer and planner... stimulating and certainly controversial...It may one day prove to be a landmark in design methodology.