I have a friend whose house was designed using some of the principles set forth by [Christopher] Alexander. For example, one important idea is to go to the site and look at it and its surroundings, and situate the structure to take advantage of the site. Her architect built a wall framed with wood and covered with cardboard, with the windows cut out, that was the size and shape of the main living area wall. He and an assistant held the wall in place as my friend looked through the window, standing and seated, in the center of what would be the living room. They moved the wall this way and that, trying various angles, until the mountains in the distrance were framed in the window to my friend’s satisfaction. And that defined the location [of] that wall and its windows, and thus the living room and main house.
From a post on Christopher Alexander’s The Nature of Order at “Later On”
Dave Driesmanson 18 Dec 08
yeah, looks amateurish at first maybe but is totally “getting real”
CJ Curtison 18 Dec 08
silly, but incredibly foresighted. my wife and i are “rebuilding” our house one room at a time. sometimes i’ll stand for hours and look around the room…just thinking about what needs to be done. it takes forever, but it always works for the best. anyone who has built a house has 100 stories of “i wish we would have done this.”
MattHon 18 Dec 08
Interesting, but why not just make a bigger window?
BJ Neilsenon 18 Dec 08
How cool is that? You know that homeowner felt so taken care of by the builder.
qwertyon 18 Dec 08
I doubt the architects that I have to deal with at work have even heard of Christopher Alexander. No imagination, no conceptual ideas, no sense for details. The saddest part is, that there is no way to inspire them.
Terry Suttonon 18 Dec 08
Seems fairly reasonable, when you think about it.
When i bought my first car, I looked at it at least 10 different times. Sat in it at least 5 different times. Drove it 3 times.
When I bought my house, I saw it online, had a tour and made an offer on it within 1 hour.
I spent $170K on something that I knew for only 4-5 minutes. Doesn’t that seem a bit strange?
Geoffon 18 Dec 08
Steve Jobs on the design of the Apple Store, and why Apple is America’s best retailer:
“One of the best pieces of advice Mickey [Drexler, or the Gap] ever gave us was to go rent a warehouse and build a prototype of a store, and not, you know, just design it, go build 20 of them, then discover it didn’t work.”
Terry Suttonon 18 Dec 08
ps: In Newfoundland, $170K gets you a beautiful 1.5 story house, with basement apartment, with brand new kitchen, DIRECTLY across from a huge park.
Sam MacCutchanon 18 Dec 08
That’s a pretty cool idea. I think some of the Architectural CAD software can do simulations like this. It’s probably not nearly as useful as what is described hear though. Nothing like really being there.
@MattH: Perhaps making the window bigger would have a negative impact on the design. Also larger windows have an impact on heating & cooling costs, energy loss etc.
Leisureguyon 20 Dec 08
Making the windows larger still means that the window will frame the view. The idea is that the view be framed in the way that’s most effective. And Sam is right: the size of the window has lots of implications on the feeling of the room. The architect had designed a window that was appropriate for the room and its size, and the exercise with the cardboard wall with window cutout was to use that window to frame the view effectively.
This discussion is closed.