The Oregon Experiment 

Document Type: Book
Series: Center for environmental structure series (Volume 3)
Author: Christopher Alexander;
Sara Ishikawa; Murray Silverstein;
Max Jacobson; Ingrid Fiksdahl-King
Shlomo Angel.
Publisher:  Oxford University Press
First edition: 1975
ISBN: 0195018249
ISBN13: 9780195018240

The Oregon experiment is the master plan for the University of Oregon and describes the practical way of implementing the ideas discussed in ‘The timeless way of building‘ and ‘A pattern language‘ in a community. However, they emphasize at once that they are dealing with a very special kind of community. Unlike the most communities, it has a single owner (The state of Oregon), and a single, centralised budget. This situation is not only unusual, it is even opposed to the ideas which are actually needed to make the way of buildings they call timeless way, appear in the society. However, they believe that a modified version of this way of building is possible, even under these restrictions and this book, beyond its function as a master plan for the University of Oregon, is our attempt to define this process.

The process will apply in full, to any other community where there are a single owner and a single centralised budget. This means it will apply for example to a kibbutz, a hospital, an industrial plant, a farm, any settlements where the concept of private property is abolished and any benevolent institution run by the government for the welfare of its citizens.

Throughout this book, they are especially concerned with the practical steps which must be taken to make these things happen. Specifically, we believe that the process of building and planning in a community will create an environment which meets the human needs only if follows six principles of implementation: organic order, participation, piecemeal growth, patterns, diagnosis, and coordination.

  1. Organic order
    Planning and construction will be guided by a process which allows the whole to emerge gradually from local acts.
  2. Participation
    All decisions about what to build, how to build it, will be in the hands of the users.
  3. Piecemeal growth
    The construction undertaken in each budgetary period will be weighed overwhelmingly towards small projects
  4. Patterns
    All design and construction will be guided by a collection of communally adopted planning principles called patterns
  5. Diagnosis
    The well-being of the whole will be protected by an annual diagnosis which explains in detail, which spaces are alive and which ones are dead, at any given moment in the history of the community.
  6. Coordination.
    Finally, the slow emergence of organic order in the whole will be assured by funding process which regulates the stream of individual projects put forward by users.

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