2018/10/26 11:20 Bin Jiang, “Alexander’s Wholeness as the Scientific Foundation for Urban Design and Planning”, PUARL Conference

Plenary by @binjiangxp at @PUARLuo 2018 Conference.

Bin Jiang, PUARL 10th Anniversay Conference

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Bin Jiang is a professor in the Faculty of Engineering and Sustainable Development, Division of Geoinformatics and Computational Geography at Högskolan i Gävle 

Has been hooked by Christopher Alexander, and Nature of Order in particular


  • Two fundamental laws:  scaling law and Tobler’s law
  • Two design principles:  Differentiation and adaptation
  • Wholeness accounting by other theories included


  • City rebuilding based on a foundation of nonsense — Jacobs 1961
  • Urban design accused of being pseudoscientific
  • Alexander realized this back to the 1950s, so devoted his career to develop a scientific foundation of wholeness

Wholeness is pervasive, but hard to see

  • No mathematics is powerful enough to capture the definition of wholeness, so he used pictures
  • 15 properties are hard to understand

What is wholeness, life and beauty?

  • Wholeness is a recursive structure
  • Alexander says it’s real structure, not just appreciation
  • Wholeness is made of many centers
  • Life or beauty is a quality of space

Alexander’s view of space and 15 properties

  • Spaces is living structure
  • 15 properties

Physical character of living structure:  A piece of paper with a tiny dot (that induces centers)

Scaling law (also called spatial heterogeneity)

  • More small things than large things

Tobler’s law on spatial dependence: everything is related to everything else, by near things are more related than distant things


#pattern-language, #puarl2018