In this book Nili Portugali presents her particular interpretation of
the holistic-phenomenological world view in theory and in practice,
a world view which has been at the forefront of the scientific discourse
in recent years and which is closely related to Buddhist
The purpose of architecture is first and foremost to create a human
environment for human beings. The real challenge of current
architectural practice is to make the best use of the potential inherent
in our modern technological age.
Yet, modern society has lost the value of man and thus created a
feeling of alienation between man and the environment. Contemporary
architecture sought to dissociate itself from the world of emotions
and connect the design process to the world of ideas, thus
creating a rational relation between building and man, devoid of any
Portugali argues that in order to change the feeling of the environment
and to create places and buildings we really feel 'at home'
and want to live in, what is needed is not a change of style or fashion,
but a transformation of the mechanistic world view underlying
current thought and approaches. Based on Christopher Alexander’s
basic assumption that behind human architecture there are universal
and eternal codes common to us all as human beings, and that
there is absolute truth underlying beauty and comfort, Portugali
demonstrates how this approach, as well as her unique planning
process stemming from it (based on the way things actually exist
already on site), generates that common spiritual experience people
undergo in buildings endowed with soul, no matter where or from
what culture they come from.
That she demonstrates in a variety of projects, in relation to the
physical, cultural and social reality of the place they were planned
and built on, an Israeli reality which reflects a unique interface between
the orient and the west, a cultural interface she personally
Portugali is a lecturer at the Bezalel Academy of Art & Design in
Jerusalem and a practicing architect working in Israel for more than
three decades. Her work has focused on both practice and theory.
She studied at the Architectural Association School of Architecture
in London and at the University of California in Berkeley, and worked
and participated in research with Christopher Alexander at the Center
for Environmental Structure in Berkeley.