The Production of Cities: Christopher Alexander and the Problem of "System A" at Large Scale

Sergio Porta, Y Rofè, Maria Pia Vidoli

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


This paper sets out to respond to the question of whether, and how, can Alexander's system A of generating beauty and life in the world be implemented at the large scale. We show that the generation of beauty in cities is a question of time not scale, and that it is a product of morphological evolution, typified by what we call: informal participation. The mechanistic system codified and developed in the last 70 years for building the environment (system B) is
not able to accommodate informal participation, and thus incapable of creating beauty or life. It is not planning per se that is the problem, but knowing what needs and can be planned, and what needs to be allowed to evolve. Thus, planning's role can be redefined as creating the structures, both physical and regulatory that will allow informal participation to occur freely and create life, beauty and wholeness in the built environment.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationPursuit of Pattern Language for Societal Change
Subtitle of host publicationDesigning Lively Scenarios in Various Fields
EditorsPeter Baumgartner, Tina Gruber-Muecke, Richard Sickinger
Place of PublicationBerlin
PublisherEdition Donau-Universitat Krems
ISBN (Electronic)9783903150157
StatePublished - Aug 2017

Publication series

NameProceedings of Pursuit of Pattern Languages for Societal Change


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