L'École Marchutz

No. 1: The Quality Without a Name

Marchutz Fellow

Hilary and Kate are collaborating on a series of videos that spotlight the multitude of ideas and experiences that make the Marchutz program so unique. Number one centers on an architecture excursion to the Luberon Valley, where we observed and discussed the integral "quality" of nature that Christopher Alexander expounds on in The Timeless Way of Building. 

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"There is a central quality which is the root criterion of life and spirit in man, a town, a building, or a wilderness. This quality is objective and precise, but it cannot be named.

...The fact is that the difference between a good building and a bad building, between a good town and a bad town, is an objective manner. It is the difference between health and sickness, wholeness and dividedness, self-maintenance and self-destruction. In a world which is healthy, whole, alive, and self-maintaining, people themselves can be alive and self-creating. In a world which is unwhole and self-destroying, people cannot be alive: they will inevitable be self-destroying, and miserable.

...This oneness, or the lack of it, is the fundamental quality for any thing. Whether it is in a poem, or a man, or in a building full of people, or in a forest, or a city, everything that matters stems from it. It embodies everything."

- Christopher Alexander, The Timeless Way of Building, Chapter 2

Kate Butler and Hilary Stein