Shifting Patterns

Shifting Patterns

Christopher Alexander and the Eishin Campus

An intercultural und interdisciplinary examination of Christopher Alexander’s methods for building and urban design



Title Information

Edited by Eva Guttmann, Gabriele Kaiser, Claudia Mazanek

1st edition

, 2019


192 pages, 133 color and 6 b/w illustrations

20.5 x 23.5 cm

ISBN 978-3-03860-149-4


Christopher Alexander is a Vienna-born, British-American architect and theorist and the father of the pattern language movement, popularized in his pivotal 1968 book, A Pattern Language, with Sara Ishikawa and Murray Silverstein, as well as the 1979 follow-up, The Timeless Way of Building. Lesser known but as essential to understanding Alexanderʼs work is his theory of “systems generating systems,” which explains that systems as a whole are created by “generating systems,” and, if we wish to make things which function as ‘wholes,’ we shall have to invent generating systems to create them.

Taking the Eishin Campus outside Tokyo, built between 1983 and 1989, as its example, Shifting Patterns is the first book to examine Alexanderʼs theory of “systems generating systems” and its application to a building design. It brings together essays from an interdisciplinary, international cast of experts, including Eva Guttmann, Gabriele Kaiser, Ernst Beneder, Walter Ruprechter, Hisae Hosoi, Christian Kuhn, Ida Pristinger, and Norihito Nakatani, as well as conversations with Hajo Neis and Takaharu Tezuka to investigate the application of this theory to the school and university complex, the largest project Alexander has realized based on pattern language. Among the issues discussed are topicality, interdisciplinary and internationality, and culture transfer. The essays also look at the design-build movement as an antithesis to todayʼs standardized and commerce-driven architectural production.


Deutsche Ausgabe

Shifting Patterns. Christopher Alexander und der Eishin Campus

Authors & Editors

Eva Guttmann

 is a freelance architecture publicist based in Graz and Vienna and an editor with Park Books.

Gabriele Kaiser

 lives and works in Vienna as freelance architecture publicist, writer, and curator.

Claudia Mazanek

is a Vienna-based freelance editor with a special expertise in twentieth-century art and architecture.


«Une étude dynamique, approfondie et incontournable de la « Théorie des Systèmes générateurs des systèmes » et de l’ensemble des recherches et travaux de Christopher Alexander des plus riches alliant interdisciplinarité et transculturel offrant une féconde antithèse avec la conception commerciale standardisée contemporaine.» Philippe-Emmanuel Krautter, Lexnews, März 2020