Friday, December 23, 2005

cool design books

lately i've been reading a lot of design books in anticipation of the final leg of design for destiny. i've been most interested in the question of "what makes a place lovable?" what makes places that people adore and take care of and what makes places people disregard, disrespect and ignore? we want to avoid the latter!

the old way of seeing by jonathan hale describes a transition beginning in the 1830s from designs that related to the human body through underlying geometries to a machine-based aesthetic that, over the decades, loses all relation to humans and has precipitated the impression in laypeople that experts are required to make good buildings. prior to 1830 laymen, tradespeople and architects all understood the need of buildings to relate back to humans and even non-designed buildings often achieved human harmonies. hale argues that buildings that don't relate to humans are rarely cherished. excellent book, very well written and researched.

places of the soul: architecture and environmental design as a healing art by christopher day describes the elements of design that engage people and bring a sense of wellness to their lives. he discusses what fails in modern architecture and how to remedy it. he builds on many of the concepts discussed in hale's book namely the imperfect execution of geometries.

the timeless way of building by christopher alexander is an excellent book, volume one of a three volume series, a pattern language being the second and most well known of the three. in the timeless way he lays out a methodology for evaluating architecture and communicating it via "patterns." patterns are clear and communicable rules of a sort that can be used by architect and layperson alike that are based on the real use of buildings, not on theory. he focuses on feeling as the preeminent mechanism by which patterns are tested, describing the pitfals of idealism, rationality and value-based systems. intuition is the metric and, according to alexander, a consistent one.


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