Why modern architecture is making us sick


FOTCM Member
I found this article very interesting - the author cites studies that document how modern architecture literally makes us sick and unwell, and gives some reasons why. He also mentions an alternative to modern architecture developed by Christopher Alexander in the 70ies.

Very well-written article that shines light on the pure evilness that has been perpetrated by the "architecture-industrial complex".

Why Christopher Alexander Failed to Humanize Architecture

Christopher Alexander introduced an astonishingly novel way of thinking about architecture. At the same time, his model validated millennia of traditional building activity, making it newly relevant for construction today. These common elements of configurations, paths, and spaces work well to provide an emotionally comfortable environment. Whenever such a pattern-rich environment succeeds in connecting to the user, people sense the QWAN—“The Quality Without A Name.” Perceiving the QWAN allows one to judge the design’s level of adaptation to human feelings.

But there remain serious unsolved problems.

The wonderfully adaptive patterns Alexander described in all his books had become extinct by the time he published his results. Breaking with convention by not discussing design formalism and ideology, he always focuses on how to achieve a space or structure that gives a positive and profound feeling to the user. And it was not a natural extinction, but an aggression: dominant architectural culture wiped out the genetic material of adaptive architecture contained in traditional design patterns. The architecture-industrial complex also conditioned the general public to reject the QWAN as irrelevant, nostalgic, and silly. Practitioners who try to implement Alexander’s toolkit for adaptive design find themselves marginalized in the architecture profession and shunned by academia.

This is not a question of resurrecting an older method that somehow became lost because of neglect through changing currents in fashion. Design patterns and the QWAN are new concepts, now supported by the latest research in neuroscience. An opinionated profession judged the healing buildings and environments from which they arose not to be worth investigating. (A Google search for Quality Without A Name or QWAN gives many thousands of software pages but no architecture pages.) Those prejudices shaped the educational system so that patterns cannot be implemented within the current design paradigm. There is no space in the curriculum, because faculty and the accreditation system have other priorities. The pattern movement flourished in the self-building counterculture, but could not spread beyond that restricted niche. In computer science, however, programmers recognized the value of his patterns and the pattern method as a general framework for organizing complexity.

Design Patterns That Determine Human Wellbeing

Alexander and his colleagues introduced “design patterns” as a tool for adaptive design in the 1977 book A Pattern Language.1 Each design project employs a group of patterns selected for their relevance to the particular situation. The “pattern language” defines how the individual patterns can combine in a coherent manner to derive novel structures that promote human health and wellbeing.2 Design patterns interlink to express design solutions in much the same way that a language links words together to express emotions and thoughts.

An infinite number of possible design patterns are embedded in traditional and contemporary architectures.3 The patterns have to be discovered and then extracted from a built configuration so they could be used again in a different context and location. After documenting several such patterns, a selection process decides which ones contribute to wellbeing. The opposite occurs when standard design typologies are instead convenient for some bureaucratic process, for efficiency in construction, or for a purely extractive profit motive. The computer science community calls those “anti-patterns.”

Out of all possible candidate patterns, Alexander chose only the ones that would enhance the eventual user’s feeling of humanity. Subjective wellbeing denotes a mental and physical state with no obvious stressors. This selection criterion guaranteed that any new project satisfying design patterns would automatically adapt to human sensibilities and promote user wellbeing. But it also split off the pattern method of design from industrial modernism, which serves mass production as an arm of extractive global consumerism.

This separation hints at underlying psychological causes. I argue elsewhere that industrial-modernist forms and surfaces encourage disconnection (from other people), disembodiment (from oneself), and favor the abstract over the contextual, producing feelings of alienation that distance us from life and the human love for the environment.4 And this is precisely the attitude’s irresistible appeal to architecture students! 5 They are drawn to a profession that promises them power: of becoming members of a system that gives license to force other individuals to inhabit alienating and uncomfortable environments. Few occupations, at least in democratic societies, allow young professionals to exert unchecked power over the population without repercussions in this way. Architecture is one of them.

In contrast to this attitude, the Alexandrian approach offers an appreciation of living structure; love of nature and other organisms; sensitivity to emotions and natural cues; the beauty and color of flowers, folk art, paintings, and so on. Those terms evoke seemingly anachronistic and romantic feelings. Ruthlessly ambitious architecture students aren’t attracted by such soft enticements. No, what really inspires today’s young architects is the expression of raw power exemplified in the “Big Underpants” building (at CCTV Headquarters) cruelly stomping on the residents of Beijing. They dream of someday designing a giant iconic building: the more impossible and unnerving its geometry, the more omnipotent the designer feels.

Science and the Spiritual Dimension of Design

A current research goal in support of Alexander’s work (for example, in the Building Beauty program) is to validate traditional techniques of design and construction: not out of nostalgia, but because they are somehow so much more adaptive than what came later. Some of us have been working in this direction, applying science to understand and update what we know works well in humanistic traditional architectures. We are hopeful that this strategy will promote the renewed adoption of adaptive architecture around the world.

Some readers may be suspicious of applying science to contemporary design precisely because it is science that has been instrumentalized in global consumer culture in the direction of often-monstrous design. Scientific research does bring in the maximum intellectual weight that can settle issues and answer open questions. Anyone who has followed the recurring debates pitting humanistic architecture versus fashion coupled with greed and power knows that the latter combination wins out every time.

To be sure, architectural reform cannot occur without scientific backing, but Alexander’s pioneering work also has a spiritual dimension. At the heart of Alexander’s conception of the universe is the intimate metaphysical connection between humanity and the built environment. The humanistic side of his work privileges an almost religious intertwining between the most uplifting traditional architecture and the spiritual human being. This point is very easy to lose in the scientific results.

In Volume Four of his magisterial The Nature of Order,6 Alexander delves into how emotion links matter with spirituality, and how this connection lies at the basis of healing design. Two essays of mine might interest readers and explain these important concepts further. “Connecting to the World: Christopher Alexander’s Tool for Human-Centered Design” describes the visual connective process and the experimental method of the “Mirror of the Self,” now verified by visual attention software.7 “Beauty and the Nature of Matter: The Legacy of Christopher Alexander” analyzes Alexander’s struggles against the mechanistic thinking that misled humankind to relinquish its own humanity.8

QWAN: The “Quality Without A Name”

Alexander’s book The Timeless Way of Building gives a beautiful and poetic description of seven qualities that combine to define the QWAN.9 He later reformulated the same concept as “degree of life,” and separately as “the field of centers” that characterizes healing environments packed with design patterns. Admittedly, having distinct names for the same phenomenon is not helpful for readers and students. Yet this redundancy reveals the difficulties of using conventional language to express a deeply connective state. Computer scientists picked up this term, and applied the QWAN to describe elegance in computer design and the complex structure of software.

I explain the “Quality Without A Name” by appealing to its opposite, which is a state of inhumanity. The 20th and 21st centuries have seen the built environment increasingly shaped to produce anthropogenic environmental stress,10 and we know that environmental stress triggers, among other things, autoimmune responses and a general feeling of malaise throughout the population.11 And yet the vast majority of people fail to realize what’s going on, despite sensing unease, while at the same time experiencing cognitive dissonance because the media praise those buildings that are making them sick.12

Nathan Robinson asks: “When is the revolution in architecture coming?, why is contemporary architecture so inhuman? And how long will we have to wait for it to be replaced by its opposite—a healing type of architecture?”13 Robinson provides useful descriptors for this inhuman architecture, and I list ten out of his fifteen terms below. He and many other observers, including myself, identify recent award-winning architecture as showing these qualities:

lifeless, asymmetric, grating, monolithic, arbitrary, brutal, drab, disharmonious, stark, unfriendly

which we contrast with Alexander’s descriptors for adaptive architecture that is “alive.” Here are the seven qualities that together make up the “Quality Without A Name”:14

alive, whole, comfortable, free, exact, egoless, eternal

This is an alarming though not exact correspondence of opposites. And it provides a lesson. We have to ineluctably conclude that contemporary architecture—not only its highest-profile iconic exemplars, but also ordinary buildings—has the unstated intention of eliminating Alexander’s “Quality Without A Name” (or “degree of life” or the “field of centers”). Disagreeable and sometimes repellent qualities embedded in the favored architecture of the past few decades are therefore not accidental, but deliberate.

I offered this observation—of sets of opposite, mutually exclusive design rules—in the first chapter of A Theory of Architecture.15 This book has become popular with the architectural establishment,16 yet, unsurprisingly, it has not led to any change in design practice.17 Nathan Robinson reached the same conclusion, “If a place feels cold and off-putting and you don’t want to visit it, well, it’s badly-designed, unless the purpose is to repel people, in which case it is well-designed but just strangely sociopathic.”18

Irrational Belief in the Redemptive Power of the Industrial Look

Why is the pattern approach to design not taught in standard courses in our schools? And why is all the mounting scientific evidence—implying that industrial-modernist design and tectonic typologies could be affecting people’s health negatively—ignored?19, 20, 21 How can environmental devastation continue worldwide while the media praise inhuman construction? The architecture-industrial complex deems design patterns to be uninteresting, and dismisses the QWAN out of hand. Since applying design patterns inevitably leads to more comfortable configurations and spaces reminiscent of traditional buildings, this resemblance is abused to discredit them.

For example, the visceral attraction of built surfaces is one of the key elements of adaptive design that is violated by industrial modernism. It is documented in the first major collection of design patterns since the original book by Alexander.22

New Pattern 12.3: FRIENDLY SURFACES. Shape wall surfaces to engage us on a visceral level so that we feel at home in our environment. Liberate architecture to once again include attractive colors, and shape surfaces that we can experience up close so they are inviting to touch. Beware of an overwhelming reliance on the psychologically neutral glass curtain wall.

Dominant architectural culture promotes unfriendly industrial-modernist surfaces, linking them to economic prosperity, moral superiority, and progress. When questioned, belief in these design choices can trigger a deeply emotional reaction from professionals, perhaps due, again, to cognitive dissonance.23 Nevertheless, the image-based design paradigm has been tested repeatedly all over the world,24 and it fails to satisfy biological human needs.25 Our body evolved to prefer fields of organized complexity over non-fractal forms, shiny surfaces, and unnatural materials.26

Architectural academics tend to keep these scientific findings away from students.27

Glass façades or white cubes, horizontal strip windows, and cantilevered overhangs often either do not register in our visual field28 or they generate anxiety.29 Those typologies continue to overwhelm spaces emotionally and replace much-loved traditional buildings. What is frightening is that the building industry continues its “business as usual,” ignoring all the lessons learned in recent decades about the long-term economic value of human-scale architecture and urbanism.30

Destructive trends of standardization continue unabated, backed by politicians and supported by vast financial interests (sometimes of questionable ethical origin). Exquisitely adapted indigenous and vernacular architectures are fervently and methodically replaced, as historical districts are destroyed to extract short-term profit through new building development. The result is frequently dead open space, with a loss of magnificent century-old trees and other long-lasting features of the area.

Industrial modernism establishes its control over humanity and nature through imposing its own typologies, at whatever scale. When contemporary art invades urban space, abstract sculptures and visually disturbing “installations” inevitably repel instead of attract people. Individuals fascinated by the avant-garde might enjoy a disturbing type of visual innovation as their personal aesthetic preference. But installations by a famous artist inserted into urban space could damage the existing circulation network. If the pedestrian flux is strong enough, users may ignore the negative emotions triggered by the installation; if the flow is weak, users might avoid the plaza altogether.

Purely Visual Patterns Versus Design Patterns

It is important to distinguish two types of patterns: (i) visual patterns, and (ii) design patterns.31 These two unrelated concepts happen to share the same descriptor, which is confusing. Curves, details, and symmetry create compositions—visual patterns belonging as much to art as to architecture. Design patterns, on the other hand, combine geometry with adaptive human use. They refer to geometrical situations that tie movement or human reactions to the physical design, more accurately described as socio-geometric patterns.32

A healing design experienced in person as a built structure, or from a full-scale mock-up, triggers positive bodily reactions due to its combination of design patterns. Design patterns are not visually obvious and have to be inferred from evolved design solutions. Successful patterns were selected by builders and users over many generations on the basis of human health and wellbeing.33 A certain typology, configuration, or construction arrangement that was felt viscerally to be pleasant and life-affirming was copied by other builders. The opposite, a configuration that felt hostile and induced anxiety, was abandoned. That is, until the natural evolution of design patterns was halted in the modernist period of architecture.

Once a design pattern is discovered in a built configuration perceived as emotionally nourishing then it can be reused elsewhere and at a different time. A design pattern could be specific to climate, culture, or historical period; but such specialized patterns are actually limited in number. There is no limit to the applicability of a general design pattern, and it can be used in combination with other patterns in a variety of new settings. The combination of patterns endows them with the properties of a “language.”34

We now possess two major collections of documented design patterns for architecture and urban planning: Alexander et al.’s, A Pattern Language and Mehaffy et al.’s A New Pattern Language For Growing Regions. Today’s practitioner has access to all those design patterns belonging to a general “Pattern Language.” A little practice with choosing and combining patterns in a project saves literally centuries of work in not having to re-discover adaptable design solutions that were found—and tested—by others in the past.

The relationship between design patterns and visual patterns is straightforward. Forces of life and movement adapt complex forms to create a comfortable and healthy built environment. The built structure is perceived as a visual pattern. This design solution contains, and is the result of, a complex interaction of many different design patterns acting together. What we see is the integration of design patterns, and, unless those are previously known, it is almost impossible to discern each individual design pattern that is contributing separately to the whole.

When Architecture and Urban Design Lost Their Causality

The advent of industrial modernism reversed the causality of design patterns and visual patterns. The morphogenetic emergence of visual patterns due to multiple adaptive forces is not well understood. For this reason, some people erroneously believed they could invent a visual pattern arbitrarily, and then impose it on architectural and urban scales. That is, implement some interesting artistic image as a building or city. That logic is flawed—yet it became standard practice. This epistemological error is a case of “reverse-causation fallacy,” where the cause of a process is confused with its effect. The modernist movement suffers from this basic misunderstanding at its core.

The resulting way of top-down thinking is favored and promoted by industrial production for its efficiency. That is achieved through eliminating adaptation that requires the sequence of selection steps it takes to validate a design pattern or group of patterns. 20th century architecture and planning consist mostly of such imposed visual patterns. Starting from before World War II, it became acceptable to implement diagrams drawn in the office or studio without first testing their effects on human beings.

Validation was based strictly on technical efficiency.

A designer was given license to invent forms that others were compelled to inhabit. This is not the same as designs evolving randomly in digital space, yet the intent is no different. We can get some strange, weird designs that arise randomly, which are then forced onto hapless users. Nothing in this “invented” model has to adapt to human life and sensibilities: the image is everything. At the same time, the historically-evolved, inherited, and tested stockpile of design patterns was forgotten, representing the extinction of adaptive design tools.

Abstract, formal design completely took over the profession, displacing design patterns that were embedded in traditional and vernacular architectures. This acute reversal occurred at the time when industrial modernism wiped out the building and design typologies of the past. There is not very much to learn from the decades of modernist examples of visual patterns, because of their limited vocabulary, while newer developments, such as parametric design, merely continue in their top-down non-adaptive mindset.

Alexander’s Mechanism for the Evolution of Design Patterns

The title of this paper posed the question: why was the introduction of the design pattern framework ineffective in re-awakening an adaptive, humane architecture? I believe the reason has to do with Alexander’s understanding of the selection mechanism for design patterns. From The Timeless Way of Building:

As people exchange ideas about the environment, and exchange patterns, the overall inventory of patterns in the pattern pool keeps changing . . . Since there are criteria for deciding which patterns are good, and which ones are bad, people will copy good patterns when they see them, and won’t copy bad ones. This means the good patterns will multiply and become more common, while bad patterns will become rare, and will gradually drop out altogether.35

Alexander describes an evolutionary process that uses criteria of human health and wellbeing. Design patterns evolved in this way during millennia of human existence. Nevertheless, the selection criteria changed drastically with the introduction of industrial modernism, replaced by an entirely different method of evaluation. Henceforth, adaptivity and human emotions no longer mattered, as building activity all over the world served a scheme of social engineering that forcibly applied top-down methods.

The end of adaptability opens up the dream of a universal style that can be applied anywhere in the world, for any local residents, in any climate, and in any culture. This, in fact, was the modernists’ widely broadcast promise. The world’s population eagerly accepted this announcement as some sort of utopian liberation, rather than realizing that it represented a design straightjacket. The International Style of architecture spelled the end of adaptivity to human needs and sensibilities. A drastic change of homogenization and simplification was forced onto the built environment.

Design patterns had already been displaced from mainstream architecture by the time Alexander was publishing his own seminal work. Yet he assumed that the model for biological evolution, which triggers spontaneous differentiation as healthy adaptation, still applied to design patterns. Here is another quote from The Timeless Way of Building:

The good patterns will persist; the bad ones will drop out. . . . In each area, a common language will evolve. . . . Each town, each region, each culture, adopts a different set of patterns—so that the great stock of pattern languages across the earth will gradually get differentiated.36

Industrial modernism worked hard to impose the opposite situation onto the world. Patterns were eliminated in order to favor the anti-patterns preferred by the global building industry. I emphasize that the International Style is based upon very few anti-patterns (hence its bland and generic “look”); and those have certainly not arisen out of human adaptation.

Alexander was convinced that it would be enough to offer the world a useful set of tools that everyone would naturally implement to create a living environment. I contend that we need much more than this. The present system is fighting hard to preclude logical and practical arguments on how to achieve a healthier and more sustaining environment through design, while the general population remains blissfully unaware of being manipulated. Let me quote Robinson once more to support my own disappointing experiences.

The most vitriol I get is actually . . . from architecture snobs who think it is wrong and bad to have a negative reaction to things they have deemed correct. It’s truly vicious. If you’re going to join those who publicly admit they don’t like contemporary architecture, you’re going to be called stupid and reactionary and completely missing the point. The consensus is so strong that new buildings around the world all mostly adhere to the Big Shapes school of design.37

A Simulated World Created by Mental Conditioning

Alexander, who was trained as a mathematician-scientist, conceived of educated society as being composed of logical, rational, thinking individuals. This generous interpretation turns out to be dangerously optimistic. His assumption doesn’t explain the actions of architects, nor the reckless, unthinking support they have received from almost everyone else. Answers to this puzzle are to be found only in the darker attributes of human behavior, which are not usually subject to the light of reason.38

The architects of modernity live inside a simulation of reality. This artificial world is created and maintained by psychological conditioning.39 There is no reality considered outside the simulated one, so that most trained architects simply cannot relate to the physical world as experienced through their neuro-physiology. Lacking all other dimensions of sensory experience, the images of an alien architecture provide the only epistemological reference. The simulation is defined by architectural slogans and a limited vocabulary of simplistic images, since visual complexity would risk the efficacy of the conditioning method.

Human interaction is strictly conceived here through other abstract renditions that are themselves part of the simulation. Extreme simplicity and self-referentiality make the topic trivially easy to master, thus empowering its followers. It permits them to feel good by claiming to know their discipline, but it also truncates their attention and keeps them from exploring alternatives. Cut off from the critical thinking that allows analysis and comparison, architectural disciples have been conditioned to perceive the simulation as the “real” world.40 And those who inhabit this simulated reality learn to perceive physical reality to be unreal.41 Back-and-forth switching is absent.42 Achieving this permanent substitution in the early 20th century was the modernist pioneers’ propaganda masterstroke.43

At the heart of the simulated world lies the experience of pain, which drives inhuman architecture while blocking adaptive design. As is now clear from scientific experiments, the design vocabulary of industrial modernism causes pain—or at least some degree of physiological discomfort—as a regular experience from built forms and surfaces.44 Architects are therefore conditioned to interact only on a detached, superficial level. Sensitive people can never go deeper in their pursuit of design freedom because they have become pain-averse. They falsely assume that a more emotional connection to physical structure will only lead to more pain.

Architectural conditioning practiced today achieves emotional disconnection, cutting off a person’s intimate sensory interaction with information embedded in the physical environment. The simulated, sterile world thrives on detachment and isolation. Those who live inside this alternative reality are conditioned to reject the healing process obtained through emotional connectivity, where pain due to physiological causes is reduced by the appropriate physical environment.45 Mindlessly defying medical findings, architects suppress adaptive design’s positive effects. Intimate connection to the real world, made possible by design patterns and the “Quality Without A Name,” threatens them.

Non-Adaptive Design Spreads Through Memetic Transmission

How does industrial modernism successfully spread throughout the world? I earlier proposed a model based on memetic transmission.46 “Memes” are simple clusters of information, usually visual or auditory, that human minds pick up subconsciously and transfer to other minds. Richard Dawkins coined this term to both contrast and parallel the genetic transmission of organismic DNA. A catchy tune or visual symbol instantly attracts human attention, and is subsequently easily recognized. Complexity works against ease of transmission, which is why successful memes tend to be simple.

The trillion-dollar advertising industry runs on creating memes that convince people to buy and consume a selected product. Top academic psychologists are enrolled to help devise techniques for memetic transmission, ensuring that one commercial product captures the market from other competing products. Everything depends upon successful branding and public relations. Above all, the industry works on triggering a person’s subconscious feelings to create a false association between the product and what’s best for the consumer.

Industrial modernism developed on the model of memetic transmission.47 Modernist pioneers were coincidentally also pioneers in the new field of advertising in the 1920s. They invented techniques for presenting architectural typologies as the realization of class and political liberation, economic prosperity, improved health, and wellbeing. These promises were just as honest as the analogous promises of a toothpaste brand improving your social life and guaranteeing career success. Yet industrial modernism spread like a viral pandemic, and is still dominant today. The only question is why academia continues to support it.48

Unlike organisms, therefore, non-adaptive architecture and urban design spread memetically. Furthermore, the process is directed by special interests. Feeding on profits from its rapid spread, the architecture-industrial complex grew larger and more powerful worldwide. As with any established system, dominant architectural culture wedded to global construction and extractive real-estate speculation is invested in maintaining its hegemony over shaping the earth’s surface. The system has infinite resources to engage in public relations, which drown out any opposition.


There is hope for a newly-adaptive architecture, because extinct design patterns can be newly rediscovered in existing buildings. Nevertheless, unless we preserve this architectural DNA embodied in historic architectures, we may not be able to read it to rederive lost design patterns. Dominant architectural culture disdains traditional and vernacular architectures. The building industry wipes out older built fabric with an iconoclastic, intolerant fanaticism, replacing it by its own industrial-modernist typologies.

We do have, at this point, two collections of published design patterns that any architect—including amateur builders—can use to generate adaptive design. Of course, the trick is to first convince society to employ patterns in shaping the built environment; something that at the moment is not receiving any support from architectural academia. The hope here is that what failed to catch on during the decades since 1977 may be boosted by scientific support provided only in the last few years. Experimental evidence not originally available is finally coming to rescue adaptive design.


  1. Christopher Alexander, S. Ishikawa, M. Silverstein, M. Jacobson, I. Fiksdahl-King, and S. Angel, A Pattern Language (New York: Oxford University Press, 1977).
  2. Nikos A. Salingaros, Principles of Urban Structure (Portland, OR: Sustasis Press, 2005).
  3. Nikos A. Salingaros, Design Patterns and Living Architecture (Portland, Oregon: Sustasis Press, 2017). Booklet published free online, Architexturez, 3 August 2021. Design Patterns and Living Architecture | Architecture's New Scientific Foundations.
  4. Nikos A. Salingaros, Anti-architecture and Deconstruction, 4th Edition (Portland, Oregon: Sustasis Press, 2014).
  5. Nikos A. Salingaros, “What Architectural Education Does To Would-Be Architects,” Common Edge, 8 (June, 2017).
  6. Christopher Alexander, The Nature of Order, Books 1-4 (Berkeley, CA: Center for Environmental Structure, 2001-2005).
  7. Nikos A. Salingaros, “Connecting to the World: Christopher Alexander’s Tool for Human-Centered Design,” She Ji: The Journal of Design, Economics, and Innovation 6, no 4 (2020), 455-481.
  8. Nikos A. Salingaros, “Beauty and the Nature of Matter: The Legacy of Christopher Alexander,” New English Review 1 (May 2019).
  9. Christopher Alexander, The Timeless Way of Building (New York: Oxford University Press, 1979).
  10. Donald H. Ruggles, Beauty, Neuroscience, and Architecture: Timeless Patterns and Their Impact on Our Well-Being (Denver, CO: Fibonacci Press, 2018).
  11. Ann Sussman and Justin Hollander, Cognitive Architecture: Designing for How We Respond to the Built Environment, 2nd ed. (London, UK: Routledge, 2021).
  12. Nikos A. Salingaros, “Cognitive Dissonance and Non-adaptive Architecture: Seven Tactics for Denying the Truth”, Doxa 11, (Norgunk Publishing House, Istanbul, January 2014), 100-117.
  13. Nathan Robinson, “When Is the Revolution in Architecture Coming?”, Current Affairs 15 (April 2021).
  14. Alexander, The Timeless Way of Building.
  15. Nikos A. Salingaros, A Theory of Architecture, 2nd ed. (Portland, OR: Sustasis Press, 2014).
  16. Bruce Buckland, “Reading List #1 A Theory of Architecture”, Buckland Architects YouTube, 16 April 2020.
  17. James Howard Kunstler, “The Human Brain and Building for Human Beings,” New Urbs, The American Conservative, 1 July 2021.
  18. Robinson, “When Is the Revolution in Architecture Coming?
  19. Salingaros, “Modernist architecture melts our brains: Findings from lockdown suggest environments lacking the complexity of life may pose a threat to humanity,” The Critic (London), 4 September 2021.
  20. Michael W. Mehaffy and Nikos A. Salingaros, “Intelligence and the Information Environment,” Metropolis, 25 February 2012.
  21. Salingaros, “Design should follow human biology and psychology,” Journal of Biourbanism, Volume 7, No. 1 (2018), 25-36.
  22. Michael W. Mehaffy, Yulia Kryazheva, Andrew Rudd, and Nikos A. Salingaros, A New Pattern Language for Growing Regions: Places, Networks, Processes (Portland, OR: Sustasis Press [with Centre for the Future of Places KTH Royal Institute of Technology, Stockholm and UN-Habitat], 2020).
  23. Salingaros, Design Patterns and Living Architecture. See also Salingaros, “Cognitive Dissonance and Non-adaptive Architecture: Seven Tactics for Denying the Truth.”
  24. Nur Haim Buras, The Art of Classic Planning: Building Beautiful and Enduring Communities (Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press/Harvard University Press, 2020).
  25. Malcolm Millais, Exploding the Myths of Modern Architecture (London, UK: Frances Lincoln Limited); 2nd ed. (Rotterdam: Mijnbestseller.nl, 2019).
  26. Alexandros A. Lavdas, Nikos A. Salingaros, and Ann Sussman, “Visual Attention Software: a new tool for understanding the ‘subliminal’ experience of the built environment”, Applied Sciences (MDPI) 11, no. 13, 6197 (2021). See also Ruggles, Beauty, Neuroscience, and Architecture, and Sussman and Hollander, Cognitive Architecture.
  27. Nikos A Salingaros. “Architecture Programs Need a Change: Put People First — Not Art,” The James G. Martin Center for Academic Renewal (6 November 2019).
  28. Salingaros, N. and Sussman, A. (2020) “Biometric pilot-studies reveal the arrangement and shape of windows on a traditional façade to be implicitly ‘engaging’, whereas contemporary façades are not”, Urban Science 4, no. 2, article number 26, (2020): 1-19.
  29. Michael W. Mehaffy and Nikos A Salingaros, “The surprisingly important role of symmetry in healthy places”, Planetizen, (8 March 2021). See also Ruggles, Beauty, Neuroscience, and Architecture, and Sussman and Hollander, Cognitive Architecture.
  30. Roberta Brandes Gratz, “Post-Covid New York and the Rebirth of the Regional City,” Common Edge (16 February 2021).
  31. Nikos A. Salingaros, “The Patterns of Architecture,” in Lynda Burke, Randy Sovich, and Craig Purcell, Editors, T3XTURE No. 3 (CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2016): 7-24.
  32. Salingaros, Principles of Urban Structure. See also Salingaros, Design Patterns and Living Architecture.
  33. Alexander, et al., A Pattern Language. See also Mehaffy, et al., A New Pattern Language for Growing Regions: Places, Networks, Processes.
  34. Salingaros, Principles of Urban Structure, chapter 8.
  35. Alexander, The Timeless Way of Building, 345-346.
  36. Ibid., 346.
  37. Robinson, “When Is the Revolution in Architecture Coming?
  38. Salingaros, Design Patterns and Living Architecture. See also Salingaros, Anti-architecture and Deconstruction.
  39. Kenneth G. Masden and Nikos A. Salingaros, “Intellectual [Dis]Honesty in Architecture”, Journal of Architecture and Urbanism 38 (2014): 187-191. See also Salingaros, “Cognitive Dissonance and Non-adaptive Architecture: Seven Tactics for Denying the Truth.”
  40. Michael Mehaffy and Nikos A. Salingaros, “Architectural Myopia: Designing for Industry, Not People”, Shareable (5 October 2011. Reprinted under the new title “The Architect Has No Clothes”, Guernica, 19 October 2011).Architectural Myopia: Designing for Industry, Not People. The Architect Has No Clothes.
  41. Michael Mehaffy and Nikos A. Salingaros, N. “Building Tomorrow’s Heritage. III. Correcting Architectural Myopia”, Preservation Leadership Forum, National Trust for Historic Preservation (26 September 2019).Building Tomorrow’s Heritage: Correcting “Architectural Myopia”.
  42. Malcolm Millais, Le Corbusier, the Dishonest Architect (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2017).
  43. James Stevens Curl, Making Dystopia: The Strange Rise and Survival of Architectural Barbarism (Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, 2018). See also Millais, Exploding the Myths of Modern Architecture.
  44. Salingaros, Design Patterns and Living Architecture. See also Salingaros, “What Architectural Education Does To Would-Be Architects”; Ruggles, Beauty, Neuroscience, and Architecture; Sussman and Hollander, Cognitive Architecture; and Salingaros, “Cognitive Dissonance and Non-adaptive Architecture: Seven Tactics for Denying the Truth.”
  45. Salingaros, “Connecting to the World: Christopher Alexander’s Tool for Human-Centered Design.” See also Salingaros, “Beauty and the Nature of Matter: The Legacy of Christopher Alexander”; Ruggles, Beauty, Neuroscience, and Architecture; and Salingaros and Sussman, “Biometric pilot-studies reveal the arrangement and shape of windows on a traditional façade to be implicitly ‘engaging’, whereas contemporary façades are not.”
  46. Salingaros, A Theory of Architecture.
  47. Ibid.
  48. Kenneth G. Masden and Nikos A. Salingaros, “Intellectual [Dis]Honesty in Architecture.”

The persistent hegemony of architectural forms so hideous that they literally make people sick, in spite of the mountains of evidence demonstrating that such architecture is spiritually and biologically toxic, suggests that it is not simply that architects remain wilfully ignorant, but that sickening humanity by vandalizing the world with their monstrosities is precisely the goal.
There are a load of very tangible reasons why modern buildings often make people sick.

Their inherent energetics of course matter, as does our tendency to fill them with electromagnetic radiation and other emissions producing materials, people and equipment.

Most problems however are the direct result of organisations seeking to minimise spending - there are potentially millions per year to be saved in the cost of running a large factory or office building.

Construction uses cheaper synthetic materials which often outgass harmful chemicals to one degree or another.

The cost of running heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems increases as the volume of air moved increases - but the volume of air movement to be moved increases eponentially as the dimensional size of a building increases - bercause its volume increases exponentially.

Air conditioning in particular is hugely expensive because the incoming humid air has to be chilled down to the required dew point temperature to drop the moisture out of it, (perhaps to 40 degF ?) and then re-heated to the very high ~70 deg F room temperature most demand these days.

The cost to run the pumps and fans involved is significant too.

Since the cost increases very rapidly as buildings get bigger people and equipment are often packed in quite tightly - which has the potential to shove carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide and potentially other pollutants to levels that are multiples of those found in outside air.

It'd for these reasons make health sense to maximise fresh air throughput rates, but those running organisations go in the other direction to save money.

Free outside outside ventilation is minimised, air conditioning systems are set up to recycle the already conditioned air from inside the building - blending in only the minimum amount of fresh air they can get away with. (perhaps 10%?)

The result is a very significant (and often very unhealthy) concentration of the levels of pollutants...

When people complain of not feeling well they typically have no conception of any of these matters - so somehow what's happening is always a 'mystery'. Those in the know are unlikely to speak up - although they may quietly increase the intake of fresh air a bit (modern 'split' systems permit this) if it looks like the problem threatens to become unmanageable...

Energy conservation (and no doubt these days carbon footprint) is the refrain, but given the building designs in use (which basically are square because that's cheaper too) it's in the first instance really about saving money.
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I found this article very interesting - the author cites studies that document how modern architecture literally makes us sick and unwell, and gives some reasons why. He also mentions an alternative to modern architecture developed by Christopher Alexander in the 70ies.

Very well-written article that shines light on the pure evilness that has been perpetrated by the "architecture-industrial complex".

very interesting article! I am going to reread later-there is so much to think about.
This is a fascinating article documenting what I began to surmise decades ago when studying architecture: that the essence of good architecture is psychology applied to our inhabited spaces. (Not surprisingly, my second educational track was a doctorate in psychology.
Energy conservation (and no doubt these days carbon footprint) is the refrain, but given the building designs in use (which basically are square because that's cheaper too) it's in the first instance really about saving money.

I see what you are saying, but to me, it's not the main reason. Some materials used are quite expensive, still, say, in modern inside decoration. But that still doesn't remove the facts described in the article, and the "souls-killing effect" of modern architecture. I know someone who will buy the most expensive type of ceramic and marble for his interior decoration, but it's just a bunch of straight lines and nonsensical modern art.
In my experience, the Feng Shui principles work quite well to enhance living spaces and it is still widely used in Asia from what I understand. Have been recently planning a house I would like to build, relying both on my intuition and Feng Shui principles, such as:

- The best location of rooms depending on their function
- Avoiding doors directly opposite windows or other doors
- Avoiding long corridors, badly lit corners, glass wall windows, etc.

There are also good Feng Shui principles on choosing and arranging furniture in each area to ensure a good 'energy flow'.
Thank you for this thread. I was thinking about myself to start a thread about architecture, or more like, criticizing modern architecture.
The way I see it, we live in places, which completely lack imagination and playfulness. The essence of material life, colours, forms, light, is completely missing or distorted. Smaller and smaller windows, less and less natural light. No garden or tiny balcony. And gray. No colours. Just gray. Anybody noticed this sneaky gray revolution? The colours dissaperaing, just gray.....lots of shades of gray. And Im not talking about any movie.


This is how I felt when I was living in a block of flats..
True beauty unites us, raises our vibration, and opens our hearts. Everything the NWO hates. I also think this is all by design. One of the first things Biden did after the great steal was using an executive order to scrap former President Donald Trump's attempt to favor classical architecture upon which the nation was founded.

China on the other hand is returning to building federal buildings in a traditional style:

I see what you are saying, but to me, it's not the main reason. Some materials used are quite expensive, still, say, in modern inside decoration. But that still doesn't remove the facts described in the article, and the "souls-killing effect" of modern architecture. I know someone who will buy the most expensive type of ceramic and marble for his interior decoration, but it's just a bunch of straight lines and nonsensical modern art.
"soul-killing effect" indeed when we consider this from the "Descriptions of the Afterlife" thread:
"The Afterworld is a place with landscapes and seas and houses and cities reminiscent of our own world - a material world, but of higher vibration insensible to us earthlings. Astral clothing is fashioned by the mind, usually without any conscious effort... automatically reflect a person's character because they are part of their subtle astral body that automatically reflects their habitual thoughts and feelings. Even the house a spirit lives in reflects a person's soul."

Since everything vibrates, it is natural that vibrations in proximity will cross-vibrate, and may do so in a non-harmonious manner. Which is where geometry comes to play. Toxic buildings are designed with poor geometric principles, and then create vibrations and/or wave reflections that harm rather than soothe and heal.

I wrestled with this back when I still worked in the corporate world and had to be the office every day. I found being in the the facility all day long was very draining. A good walk outdoors a couple times a day seemed to clear the fog, but I wanted better options.

I highly recommend Ibrahim Karim's book Biogeometry - Back To A Future For Mankind. He covers the topic of toxic architecture and methods to adjust it back to health. Ibrahim also offers a range of devices he has developed and deployed successfully in buildings to detoxify them and keep them non-toxic, even in our highly loaded electromagnetic environment.

Feng Shui can get you there as well, but I have found that combining Feng Shui practices with Biogeometry practices are synergistic, and sometimes one approach is better for a particular condition than another. And for those that are Reiki practitioners, you have the added advantage of being able to tune your environment locally with select use of intentional application of symbols, so there is that option as well.
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Construction uses cheaper synthetic materials which often outgass harmful chemicals to one degree or another.
My house, for example, is just twenty years old. I have had Chinese-born doctors for >20 years and all have said to keep windows open year-round, even if just a crack. I think this helps. Still, I've noticed, especially with introduction of wi-fi, and especially in winter, that I can get fatigue and cold symptoms if indoors for long duration, and going out relieves the condition quite noticeably.
My house, for example, is just twenty years old. I have had Chinese-born doctors for >20 years and all have said to keep windows open year-round, even if just a crack. I think this helps. Still, I've noticed, especially with introduction of wi-fi, and especially in winter, that I can get fatigue and cold symptoms if indoors for long duration, and going out relieves the condition quite noticeably.
I think, for whatever reason, many people are not aware of the fact that a sealed home means literally everything chemical inside is additive to internal pollution of your breathing environment, right down to your handsoap. So while there is proper concern about RF pollution from local short distance signals such as WiFi, and there seems to be either more awareness or concern (or both) about RF pollution, it is the air you breathe moment by moment probably is the most significant ingestion of toxins and pollutants.

Why do we have to dust our home even when it is closed to the outside? Indoor generated pollutants, and big ones too that tend to settle down in the lungs.

Why does our home sometimes smell funky? Indoor generated pollutants, including normal air discharge from humans in the home.

Why do I smell fresh cooked food when I come in the door, even though I have a very good air handler over my stove? Pollutants that are byproducts of the cooking process.

Believe it or not, when testing a home environment, the bedrooms are generally the highest pollution rooms, after an actively used kitchen. Worse than bathrooms actually :barf:

I did a study of my own home about 10 years ago, because while I love to have my windows open when the air outside is clear, I found when sealed up the internal air at times would have a "heavy" feel to it when I returned home after a walk in the park. So I set up instruments, and captured data over a period of two weeks, and sure enough pollutant levels would rise the longer the house was closed up. The solution in my case was since I did not want to strip and re-engineer my home internally right down to sheets on beds, I instead went with hepa air filtration devices spread around my home, then re-ran the testing. Sure enough, the air filtering systems were doing their job as my measured pollutants fell way below prior norms and my home was no cleaner than the outside air on most days. And the real proof is when it comes time to change out the Hepa Filters, you will find that the filters are literally black and almost impossible to shine light through, all of which would have ended up in lungs if not for the filtration.

Electrical pollution is a different beast to deal with entirely. The key here is to fragment the radiated waves so that they scatter and become harmless random noise. This can be done actively or passively. I prefer passive methods, leveraging from efforts for general improvement of energy inside a home via energetic diagnostics and adjustments (Feng Shui, BioGeometry, Reiki, even singing bowls periodically). Diagnostic capabilities are key here. I've used both pendulum and dowsing as my meter for decades now, but a competent and trusted Feng Shui practitioner could perform the task quite handily as well.

While I keep most internal connections to the net in my home on shielded ethernet, some devices demand access to wireless. I really do not worry about it much though for two reasons: 1) WiFi transmits in frequency ranges that generally do not interact with biology in any harmful manner. The risk is not zero, but it is very low. 2) all your neighbors around you are also running WiFi and so you can't get rid of it unless you move out into the boonies somewhere. So... mitigating it through subtle energetic means is the simplest approach.

From my perspective, at the end of the day, pollution is ubiquitous and always will be where there are humans, and hence is something to be managed rather than absolutely completely eliminated.
Believe it or not, when testing a home environment, the bedrooms are generally the highest pollution rooms
I sometimes wonder if the neighbors think I'm crazy or maybe up to no good because there's a visible exhaust fan in the upstairs bedroom window, facing the street, running year-round even through the freezing winters. Well, no one has ever mentioned it and the police have never come to "check" on me so maybe they're all just too dissociated to notice. :lol:
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