RE: Bonnie's fascinating life...

From: Stirling Westrup (
Date: Mon Jul 03 2000 - 07:53:03 MDT

Bonnie wrote:

> The techniques described in the book have been extensively used in
> third-world countries by people who were not getting enough to eat using
> other methods of food production and acquisition. The book is not so much
> a how-to-do-it manual for specific techniques as a meta-design manual that
> describes how to go about turning a small piece of land into an efficient
> life-support system. One of Bill's "rules" (which has also long been one
> of my own) is that everything should have at least 2 different purposes.

This meshes well with a wonderful book I own called "A Pattern Language"
by Christopher Alexander. The book gives an hierarchical set of rules for
constructing living areas ranging in size from a single room up to a city.
The author believes (and provides a fair amount of references to
supporting studdies) that most architecture today is far too 'single-
purpose' and barren. He recommends that every piece of architecture must
at the least fulfil two purposes at its level, and be an integral part of
its context at the next higher level up. To aid in this, the book is a
list of 256 cross-referenced patterns that one should try and
simultaneously fulfil when building.

I fear that I am not given a very good description of the book, but I did
find it a real eye-openner. I should caution any Extropians who might read
it that Alexander doesn't seem to GET technology. For example, he gives
studies showing that people who live more than four floors above a public
thoroughfare seldom interact in a neighborly way with folks on the street.
He therefore assumes that appartment buildings should be no more than four
floors tall. He never considers what would happen if he put thoroughfares
through the upper stories of buildings. There are many similar lapses
throughout that can annoy one. I've always thought that someone should
update his work with a clear eye towards technological approaches to
fulfilling his patterns.

 Stirling Westrup  |  Use of the Internet by this poster       |  is not to be construed as a tacit
                   |  endorsement of Western Technological
                   |  Civilization or its appurtenances.

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