Chances are, you have heard of Christopher Alexander because of his most famous book on architecture, A Pattern Language.
Alexander, the mathematician, was always concerned with the processes by which parts transform into wholes. He wants to know how we are implementing this part-whole synthesis; how nature does it; and especially, where we, in our own human version, might be getting it wrong. This is the key to an important realization about natural systems and how they generate form — one that, as Alexander has long noted, is distinct from how we humans typically generate form. And this is not a mere philosophical matter of humans being different from nature, or “having culture.” It’s a question of how we humans can also have a technology that is actually more complex, resilient, and sustainable — quite literally, more life-like.