A practicing architect, builder, and Emeritus Professor of Architecture at the University of California, Berkeley, Christopher Alexander was born on October 4, 1936 in Vienna, Austria. He was brought up in England and received science education in early age. Later in 1954 he received a scholarship for chemistry and physics at the Trinity College, Cambridge University, but proceeded with studying mathematics. Alexander received bachelor’s degree in architecture and master’s degree in mathematics from Cambridge and a PhD in architecture from Harvard University. During his doctorate days he also worked in transportation theory and computer science at Massachusetts Institute of Technology and further went on working at Harvard in cognition and cognitive studies.
Alexander started off his career in 1963 with an appointment as a Professor of Architecture at the University of California at Berkeley. Later on he also performed his duties as an Emeritus professor of Architecture in the same institute. In 1967 he founded the Center for Environmental Structure and is still securing the seat as its president.
Before stepping practically in the field, Christopher Alexander published various books addressing topics like community planning, the concept of ‘Pattern language’, illustrated good design practices and understanding and configuration of design patterns. These publications provided source of inspiration for young lot of architects and also provided buildings codes for some cities. The major contribution in this literary field was his four volume book titled of ‘The Nature of Order: an Essay on the Art of Building and the Nature of the Universe’. In this work he talks about traditional impacts on built environment around in cities. Moreover, he also discusses the relation of functionality with success of buildings and towns.
Some of his great works that won him different awards are:
- the ‘New Eishin University Campus’ project in Tokyo
- the West Dean Visitors Centre in West Sussex, England
- the Julian Street Inn (a homeless shelter) in San Jose, California
- the low-cost housing in Mexicali, Mexico
- the Sala House and the Martinez House (experimental houses in Albany and Martinez, California made of lightweight concrete)
Alexander has always talked about one quality, quite special about all of his creations, in his literature. He named it “wholeness” and it induces a feeling of connectivity and affiliation in users with the place or structure under their possession. He used the same principles for both his private and public buildings. In case of public buildings he has always preferred to make them blend well with the surroundings. He has always tried to derive the inspiration right from the context and he very strongly believes that a well harmonized and well settled building in a locality would definitely bring about positive reforms in the whole environmental set up.
Christopher Alexander currently lives in Arundel, Sussex, UK with his wife and is pursuing his career delightfully.