Theory &Arbitrage

Buildings must always be built on those parts of the land which are in the worst condition, not the best.

Pattern #104 in Christopher Alexander’s Pattern Language.

His explanation:

What usually happens when someone thinks of building on a piece of land? He looks for the best site - where the grass is most beautiful, the trees most healthy, the slope of the land most even, the view most lovely, the soil most fertile - and that is just where he decides to put his house. 

People always say to themselves, well, of course, we can always start another garden, build another trellis, put in another gravel path, put new crocuses in the new lawn, and the lizards will find some other pile of stones. But it just is not so.These simple things take years to grow - it isn’t all that easy to create them, just by wanting to. And every time we disturb one of these precious details, it may take twenty years, a lifetime even, before some comparable details grow again from our small daily acts.

If we always build on that part of the land which is most healthy, we can be virtually certain that a great deal of the land will always be less than healthy. If we want the land to be healthy all over - all of it - then we must do the opposite. We must treat every new act of building as an opportunity to mend some rent in the existing cloth; each act of building gives us the chance to make one of the ugliest and least healthy parts of the environment more healthy - as for those parts which are already healthy and beautiful - they of course need no attention. And in fact, we must discipline ourselves most strictly to leave them alone,so that our energy actually goes to the places which need it.

My read:

Creators make beauty by working in the ugly.

(via zachklein)


The heart is not a box that fills up, it grows the more you use it. It expands and spreads and enhances how you love other people. I know it sounds crazy but it doesn’t change how I feel about you because I am both yours and not yours.

— Samantha (Her)