Making the Garden by Christopher Alexander | Articles | First Things

The whole purpose of the work I have done is to show that the presence of God in a matter-­configuration is an objectively existing condition, and that there are specific paths and methods and habits of thought through which we may create buildings where the presence of God can be seen and felt. The two go hand in hand. …. That new vision can become a new source of inspiration and motivation. I call it new not because it is at root genuinely new. Of course it is not—it is ancient. But it is entirely new in our era to…

Strong People, Strong Cities by Aaron M. Renn, City Journal April 5, 2015

Much discussion of urban resilience focuses on systems; the conservative approach starts with individuals. Former Navy SEAL Eric Greitens’s new book is adapted from letters he wrote to a former SEAL teammate suffering post-traumatic stress disorder. Resilience channels ancient wisdom in support of an approach to living centered on personal resilience. Greitens argues for humility about our ability to control the world. We must recognize that life is unfair and take responsibility for ourselves. Channeling Aristotle, Greitens notes that these habits don’t come naturally, but rather from regular practice. “You weren’t born with resilience, any more than you were born…

Reflections on ‘Responsive Environments’

Within the Joint Centre, therefore, there were three schools of thought; Dutch Structuralism (van Eyck, Hertzberger etc), Anglo Saxon Empiricism (Lynch, Hillier etc) and Latin Rationalism (or Latin American Morphologists which came from an influx of Latin American students into the centre). ‘Responsive Environments’ is an amalgamation of these somewhat disparate philosophies. As Ian Bentley described it “It’s like a mix and match shed that you keep adding bits to, in the end it somehow works but you’re not entirely sure why”. And it does work, the ideas which ‘Responsive Environments’ lays out are very simple – how do you create opportunities…

My role in de-skilling the arts | J. E. Johnson

David Pye avoided the word “skill” in his broadly influential book, The Nature and Art of Workmanship, preferring instead two more narrowly defined terms: the workmanship of certainty where “every operation during production has been predetermined and is outside the control of the operative” and the workmanship of risk where quality is determined by “care, judgment, and dexterity.”[3] More and more our studio depends upon the workmanship of certainty as we aspire less and less toward the workmanship of risk. So to compensate for our students insufficient care, judgment, and dexterity we have – like the proverbial boiled frog –…

The Best-Laid Plans [Review of Scott’s Seeing Like a State]

The 20th century has seen many grand schemes for improving the human condition. The collectivization of farming in the Soviet Union, compulsory villagization in Ethiopia and postcolonial Tanzania, the construction of Brasilia according to Le Corbusiers theories of urban planning, Maoist Chinas Great Leap Forward and the self-sufficient rural economy that was the goal of Pol Pots Cambodia were ambitious efforts to better the lot of humankind. The ideas inspiring the schemes and the regimes that attempted them were highly diverse. The human costs of the experiments varied from an immeasurable toll in broken lives in Russia and China to…