Fifteen Properties as the Glue which Binds Wholeness Together
based on the work of Christopher Alexander in The Nature of Order (2001)
The Hotel Palumbo, Ravello, Italy

1. LEVELS OF SCALE is the way that a strong center is made stronger partly by smaller strong centers
contained in it, and partly by its larger strong centers which contain it.

2. STRONG CENTERS defines the way that a strong center requires a spatial field-like effect, created by
other centers, as the primary source of its strength.

3. BOUNDARIES is the way in which the field-like effect of a center is strengthened by the creation of a
ring-like center, made of smaller centers which surround and intensify the first. The boundary also unites
the center with the centers beyond it, thus strengthening it further.

4. ALTERNATING REPETITION is the way in which centers are strengthened when they repeat, by the
insertion of other centers between the repeating ones.

5. POSITIVE SPACE is the way that a given center must draw its strength, in part, from the strength of
other centers immediately adjacent to it in space.

6. GOOD SHAPE is the way that the strength of a given center depends on its actual shape, and the way
this effect requires that even the shape, its boundary, and the space around it are made up of strong

7. LOCAL SYMMETRIES is the way that the intensity of a given center is increased by the extent to
which other smaller centers which it contains are themselves arranged in locally symmetrical groups.

8. DEEP INTERLOCK AND AMBIGUITY is the way in which the intensity of a given center can be
increased when it is attached to nearby strong centers, through a third set of strong centers that
ambiguously belong to both.

9. CONTRAST is the way that a center is strengthened by the sharpness of the distinction between its
character and the character of surrounding centers.

10. ROUGHNESS is the way that the field effect of a given center draws its strength, necessarily, from
irregularities in the sizes, shapes, and arrangements of other nearby centers.

11. GRADIENTS is the way a center is strengthened by a graded series of different-sized centers which
then "point" to the new center and intensify its field effect.

12. ECHOES is the way that the strength of a given center depends on similarities of angle and
orientation and systems of centers forming characteristic angles thus forming larger centers, among the
centers it contains.

13. THE VOID is the way that the intensity of every center depends on the existence of a still place--an
empty center--somewhere in its field.

14. SIMPLICITY AND INNER CALM is the way the strength of a center depends on its simplicity--on the
process of reducing the number of different centers which exist in it, while increasing the strength of
these centers to make them weigh more.

15. NON-SEPARATENESS is the way the life and strength of a center is merged smoothly-sometimes
even indistinguishably--with the centers that form its surroundings.

Christopher Alexander was born in Vienna and educated at Cambridge University and Harvard. He is professor of
architecture at the University of California, Berkeley. Since Whole Earth reviewed his Pattern Language twenty-five
years ago, it has remained one of the books readers have repeatedly cited as most influential in their lives. The
Phenomenon of Life is the first volume of a four-volume, 2,000-page magnum opus to be published over the next
several months. See also for a fuller understanding of the pattern language, examples of
its use, and links to Alexander's network. [© 2001 New Whole Earth LLC © 2008 Gale, Cengage Learning]

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