From ROB HOPKINS
About 3 weeks ago, I travelled to a snow-covered West Sussex to meet one of my heroes. Christopher Alexander, architect, thinker, designer, author of the seminal ‘A Pattern Language’ and of the more recent extraordinary ‘The Nature of Order’ series of books, has long been someone whose work I have admired greatly. It is sometimes said that it is generally best not to meet your heroes as they usually disappoint, but that wasn’t the case here. I met Chris and his wife Maggie in their beautiful old home (I’m starting to sound like a writer for Hello! magazine), and after lunch and a general chat about the Transition approach (about which Chris knew very little in advance of our conversation), we did the following interview. I am deeply grateful to them both for a fascinating and illuminating afternoon.
The first question is, how did A Pattern Language come about? Where did the idea come from?
Oh that I can tell you very simply. In 1961 I went to India – lived in a village. I was a fellow at Harvard and I just wanted to go to India, I always wanted to go there. I had Indian friends from all over the shop but I’d never been there. So the Society Fellows were kind enough to send me out there. I was living in this village – just mud huts, there was only one brick building which was vaguely temple-ish….at a scale and finish of a porch in a cow barn. I actually did something quite similar to what I was describing to you, in one of my books – it contains that analysis – and they’re all about issues pertaining to a simple Indian village. I made a set of diagrams – it was very early on in my career, it was one of the first projects I ever did.