Searching for theory: Christopher alexander's intellectual roots

Yasser Elsheshtawy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


The typical architectural theoretical discourse centres on an art metaphor which emphasizes the creative genius of the “master architect.” The act of design is viewed as a normative activity, depending on the personal viewpoint of the designer, leading to a relativistic position which accepts multiple viewpoints. Some have critisised this approach as being too personal leading to highly idiosyncratic buildings and structures. An alternative is proposed in which the act of design, using a science metaphor, is made explicit through the generation of rules. This paper discusses this issue through an examination of Christopher Alexander's ‘Pattern Language’, and the extent to which its constructs are derived from other disciplines outside the field of architecture. To that effect the paper is structured in two sections; the first contains a brief history on Alexander's writings and the second deals with the relationship between Alexander's theory and two theoretical constructs. Structuralism and Phenomenology. Furthermore, the relevance for establishing such linkages to Design Theory in general is discussed in the conclusion.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)395-403
Number of pages9
JournalArchitectural Science Review
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Dec 1 2001


  • Alemder
  • Architectural theorv
  • Christopher alexander

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Architecture


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