Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Phenomenon of Life” as Want to Read:
The Phenomenon of Life
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Phenomenon of Life (The Nature of Order #1)

4.44  ·  Rating Details ·  203 Ratings  ·  18 Reviews
In book one of this four-volume work, Alexander describes a scientific view of the world in which all space-matter has perceptible degrees of life, and sets this understanding of living structures as an intellectual basis for a new architecture. He identifies fifteen geometric properties which tend to accompany the presence if life in nature, and also in the buildings and ...more
Published July 15th 2004 by Center for Environmental Structure (first published 2002)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Phenomenon of Life, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about The Phenomenon of Life

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 695)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Aug 21, 2013 Andrew rated it it was amazing
Christopher Alexander has a special place in my heart. Reading his 'A Timeless Way of Building' helped enthuse me about architecture so much that I quit my job and took a degree in the subject. I'd been looking forward to reading his four-part work 'The Nature of Order' for some time, but had put it off until I had enough time to spend on the massive tomes.

Leafing through the book, the first thing I noticed was the conventional organisation of the contents - unlike his early works in which key p
Oct 01, 2007 Robert rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Anyone
The ideas in this four-volume treatise could create a real paradigm shift in Western Cartesian thought. They suggest a much more humble, and much more graceful vision of the human species. They suggest wholly new directions for scientific inquiry. They suggest a much more inclusive concept of "life". They suggest a much more beautiful vision of the universe than modern religious or secular schools offer. I try to carry this book in my mind and heart wherever I go.
Bob Nichols
Jun 11, 2013 Bob Nichols rated it really liked it
In this first of a four volume set, Alexander argues that modern architectural design reflects a mechanistic worldview, originating with Descartes, that "isolates things" and stresses facts, not value. The result for architectural design is a focus on function, not on a function-ornament unity, and a "climate of arbitrariness" and "an architecture of absurdity."

Alexander believes there's objective truth when it comes to design. It is founded on a "deep structure" within nature and is an actual t
Jun 18, 2015 Guilherme rated it it was ok
At first I found this to be some infuriatingly vague verbiage in the same vein as The Secret, except instead of "good things happen if you think about them", the key phrase is "Everything is connected".

Then it hit me and now I'm impressed. This man has written a 500-page treatise on how he hates modern architecture. The exact line is somewhere in 1940, but halfway through the book, I could tell whether the dude liked or hated something purely based on when it was made.

Of course, he never uses th
Roslyn Ross
Oct 10, 2014 Roslyn Ross rated it it was amazing
All artists, designers, builders, landscapers, and Objectivists interested in art would likely benefit tremendously and most likely enjoy reading this book! Though it is really really long.

I love how Alexander’s books are beautiful. It made me happy every time I picked up this book because I was holding something so lovely in my hands. And it annoyed me that other books written about beauty don't try to be beautiful. Also, this book reads as if it is written in NVC. The author writes so respectf
Jan 27, 2009 Evrim rated it it was amazing
Shelves: inexhaustible
I am learning so much...Some one else remarked that Christopher Alexander may well be the name that is remembered from our time in 500 years time. I have to agree.
Paul Brooks
Mar 14, 2015 Paul Brooks rated it it was amazing
The question of life and what it is is no easy discusion. Alexander is able to apply his philosophy of design to one of histories most difficult questions in a way that is convincing to say the least. 'Dead' is a concept that is of little use here.
Feb 02, 2008 Irene rated it liked it
Truth-be-told, I never actually finished this book. The book was probably most interesting because, even though I disagreed with (or possibly didn't understand) half of his points, the half I did get were enlightening. Also a good thing to note is that much of what he writes on is basic/common knowledge to anyone who has studied an art-related field, but the connections he draws from this knowledge is worth the read. :)
Aug 23, 2010 Margaret rated it it was amazing
i've read the first 4 chapters for an incredible Place Theory class i'm taking with Doug Paterson at UBC. the class in blowing my mind. so great to talk about in an intelligent stimulating manner so many of the things the rile me up. alexander's approach towards viewing the world, the way one meditates or reads poetry speaks to me. i think this man is a genius. 17jan 2010
Nov 12, 2008 Amy rated it really liked it
Christopher Alexander takes a good stab at why a lot of modern architecture sucks, but also what makes things good. I thought I wasn't into architectural theory, but I really got into this one.
Sep 14, 2016 Fan rated it really liked it
Quite a special view of defining beauty, how much life something has, and to see things through our daily environment
Aug 21, 2012 Stuart rated it really liked it
Might have to read it again sometime, lots of really good design concepts and a nice overarching idea.
Logan Smith
Jun 20, 2012 Logan Smith rated it really liked it
Shelves: architecture
He has some great ideas, but his writing leaves something to be desired.
Aug 19, 2007 Jen rated it it was amazing
Shelves: designtheory
You can't see the buildings around you the same after this eye opening book.
Robert Paterson
Jan 31, 2013 Robert Paterson rated it it was amazing
Shelves: design
If I had to choose one book to keep - this is it - a triumph
Aug 20, 2008 Jim rated it it was amazing
There's no need to rush through these volumes.
Michael Alig
Sep 25, 2012 Michael Alig rated it it was amazing
Changed the way I look at the world.
Nynke Fokma
Jul 13, 2009 Nynke Fokma rated it it was amazing
No words ...
Nada marked it as to-read
Sep 24, 2016
Seneda marked it as to-read
Sep 13, 2016
BookDB marked it as to-read
Sep 12, 2016
Ryan marked it as to-read
Aug 28, 2016
Jim Entz
Jim Entz marked it as to-read
Aug 27, 2016
Rudi Schlatte
Rudi Schlatte is currently reading it
Aug 27, 2016
Ayob Alaie
Ayob Alaie marked it as to-read
Aug 11, 2016
Patrick T
Patrick T marked it as to-read
Aug 07, 2016
Namit marked it as to-read
Aug 07, 2016
Layla Zibar
Layla Zibar marked it as to-read
Aug 05, 2016
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 23 24 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • How Buildings Learn: What Happens After They're Built
  • Exploring Requirements: Quality Before Design
  • Architecture and Disjunction
  • Autopoiesis and Cognition: The Realization of the Living
  • Hidden Order: How Adaptation Builds Complexity
  • Fundamentals of Building Construction: Materials and Methods
  • Complexity and Contradiction in Architecture
  • The Periodic Table: Its Story and Its Significance
  • Mind and Nature: A Necessary Unity
  • Programs and Manifestoes on 20th-Century Architecture
  • The Ten Books on Architecture
  • Space, Time and Architecture: The Growth of a New Tradition
  • Massive Change
  • The Look of Architecture
  • Thermal Delight in Architecture
  • Infinite in All Directions
  • The Eyes of the Skin: Architecture and the Senses
  • The Jewel-Hinged Jaw: Notes on the Language of Science Fiction

Other Books in the Series

The Nature of Order (4 books)
  • The Process of Creating Life
  • A Vision of a Living World
  • The Luminous Ground

Share This Book