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

Comments

Prepare for the AICP Exam

Join the thousands of students who have utilized the Planetizen AICP* Exam Preparation Class to prepare for the American Planning Association's AICP* exam.
Starting at $245
AICP CTP Storefont Display

The first online AICP* CTP exam prep class

Are you ready to take the AICP* Certified Transportation Planner exam?
Priced at $245 for May exam!
Book cover of Insider's Guide to Careers in Urban Planning

So you want to be a planner...

Check out our behind the scenes look at 25 careers in the Urban Planning field
Starting at $14.95

Stay thirsty, urbanists

These sturdy water bottles are eco-friendly and perfect for urbanists on the go.
$19.00