Learning to build beauty

Alexander Cathedral in Sofia
Photo of Alexander Cathedral, Sofia by Kriszti√°n Korhetz / Unsplash

I have been thinking of enrolling to the Building Beauty India course - a one-year postgraduate diploma course in ecological design and construction process. In this post, I'd like to write down my motivation for doing a course in architecture - something not quite related to what a computer engineer working on hardware would need.

Architecture is everywhere

We work in a building. We sleep in a room. We eat food, meet people, and celebrate life's events in structures. They say the start of human civilization is when we began farming. But building structures - for the purpose of sleeping in them or otherwise - is much older than farming I believe. It's in our innate nature to have shelter - and understanding what makes it work is important to me.

Some structures are better than other structures. As I have understood it so far, the Nature of Order series of books helps one understand why. The Building Beauty course feels like a reading group for Christopher Alexander's work, combined with a lab that lets you practice what you learn.

Also, I did read The Fountainhead at a very impressionable age (I think I was 18).

Architecture is personal

Door to my ancestral home

Building a beautiful house requires understanding the needs of the people living in them. What I think is also part of building a structure is crafting it so, such that it lasts.

I would like to build long lasting structures the way my ancestors did.

The door in the image above leads to a house that was built over a century ago. It was used as a small school, it was used to host family events, and it was used as a home. It served my ancestors for a long time - and it's still a place that I visit at least once a year. Just like how my ancestors built something that I use over a hundred years later - I'd like to build something that outlasts me.

Beautiful Software

Design patterns is something that as a computer engineer, I have come across time and again. The genesis of this term is from Alexander's work. Perhaps the word

SimCity - which inspired The Sims spinoff - was inspired by Alexander's work as well. Perhaps by the "world building" aspect more than the application of Alexander's principles to computing. But realizing that a household name like The Sims was inspired by Alexander, makes me feel that I have inadvertently run into Alexander's works without realizing its origins. As someone who likes to take apart gadgets and toys to understand them better, I feel like I need to dive deeper into Alexander's works to understand it's impact in my software work.

Building Beauty has a sub-program called Beautiful Software. I understand that it's a research group with some active projects including working on Alexander's Gatemaker.
Being a part of Building Beauty program would also bring me closer to researching with and contributing to the Beautiful Software initiative.

Leap of faith

I did not have enough clarity about computer engineering when I enrolled for it when I was 18 years old. As I come from a family with no history of computer engineering, it was a combination of googling what the domain is, talking to people from the field, and a big leap of faith - hoping that things work out. Looking back, I can confidently say it was the right decision - but I didn't know for sure then.

This architecture course that I want to be a part of feels similar. I am older now, so hopefully a bit more wise - but definitely still taking a leap of faith after doing some research :)