Digital assets

Note on the Notes

Notes on the Synthesis of Form

This book is in my view the equivalent of the Old Testament for designers and architects. It dates 1964. Although another Alexander book from 1974, The Timeless Way of Building, has been raised to quasi cult level as it paved the way to very important principles in software design, I believe that this seminal work from the same author is more profound.
In its 1971 preface, Alexander wrote this:

“No one will become better designer by blindly following this method, or indeed by following any method blindly. On the other hand, if you try to understand the idea that you can create abstract patterns by studying the implication of limited systems of forces, and can create new forms in free combination of these patterns – and realize that this will only work if the patterns which you define deal with systems of forces whose internal interaction is very dense, and whose interaction with the other forces is very weak – then, in the process of trying to create such diagrams or patterns for yourself, you will reach the central idea which this book is all about.”

That’s the high-cohesion-low-coupling principle in its most earliest form. The fact that I can just read the preface and grasp what he meant in this dense sentence is both a sign of the influence he has had on future generations, and the importance of the principle.

You will also note the wise recommendation about following methods without thinking.

The man was born the same year as my father: 1936.

Edit from May 2022:  Christopher Alexander passed away on March 17th 2022.  May his soul rest in peace, and his teachings stay with us.