Building Beauty: A New Program Teaching Students to Help Heal the World

Yodan Rofè, Sergio Porta, Susan Ingham, Christopher R Andrews, Or Ettlinger, Paolo Robazza, Maggie Moore Alexander

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


The beauty of buildings and places is not a luxury, it is a necessity if buildings are to be cared for over generations and therefore sustainable in the long term. Building Beauty is a new one-year postgraduate program teaching an integrated process of design and making. Its ultimate goal is learning to create wholeness, beauty, and life in the world. This program, based on Christopher Alexander’s theoretical and practical work, explores the new convergence of sciences and the arts in the direct practice of making. Its syllabus revolves around three major axes of learning experience: cultivation and construction, theoretical seminars, and the exploration of self. Gaining knowledge is continuously activated across the cognitive-intellectual, the affective, and the embodied—and occurs mostly on the building site. The program, now in its second year, is homed at the Sant’Anna Institute in Sorrento (IT). The curriculum offers direct working with the community, engaging in crafts, and construction on-site. It terminates with a “Summer School” set up every year in a different location in Italy, for 10 days of intensive direct practice of different building traditions. This paper describes the theoretical foundations of the course, combining Alexander’s theories with recent advances in systems thinking, network analysis, ecological awareness, and body-mind experience. It describes the curriculum, combining seminars, design, and physical making at various scales: from an ornament to small building projects. It concludes with assessing the achievements and challenges of the program, its relevance to a deeply sustainable building future for the twenty-first century, and our vision for creating a worldwide network of universities that will together develop its themes.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationGreen Buildings and Renewable Energy
EditorsAli Sayigh
Number of pages12
ISBN (Electronic)978-3-030-30841-4
ISBN (Print)978-3-030-30840-7
StatePublished - 2020

Publication series

NameInnovative Renewable Energy


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