Architecture, Urbanism and Human Evolution

Christopher Alexander has said that there is a "timeless way of building" common to all vernacular and traditional architecture and urbanism. This essay looks at how our preference for this way of building evolved among the earliest humans.

Charles Siegel looks for universal principles of urban design, and finds three:

"If we are looking for universal principles that underlie vernacular and traditional architecture across cultures, we have to go back to Paleolithic times. Despite the immense difference between what people built then and what people built after they had permanent settlements, we can find a basis in evolutionary psychology for these key principles of today's theories of traditional architecture and urbanism:

  • Proper Scale of Whole to Part
  • Consistency with Variation
  • Symmetry

These three principles are just a first attempt to explain the timeless way of building using evolutionary psychology. But they do explain enough to let us see why modernists design places that make people uncomfortable."

Thanks to Charles Siegel

Full Story: Architecture and Evolutionary Psychology


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