Open Access Journal

ISSN: 2183-7635

Article | Open Access

Patterns of Growth: Operationalizing Alexander’s “Web Way of Thinking”

Full Text   PDF (free download)
Views: 596 | Downloads: 464


Christopher Alexander was often characterized—and sometimes seemed to characterize himself—as “sui generis,” a radical and perhaps even eccentric thinker on architecture, technology, culture, and nature. That perception in turn has led many to dismiss Alexander’s work as too idiosyncratic to be operationalized in the pragmatic world of planning and building. Here we show, however, that Alexander’s core ideas have strong parallels in contemporary network science, mathematics, physics, and philosophy, and in the pragmatic world of technological design (including computer software). We highlight a remaining gap in translating Alexander’s work into practical tools and strategies for implementation—a gap that is tantalizingly near to being bridged.

Keywords:  Christopher Alexander; design patterns; network science; pattern language; wiki



© Michael W. Mehaffy. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license (, which permits any use, distribution, and reproduction of the work without further permission provided the original author(s) and source are credited.