N. John Habraken (john@habraken.org)

Transformations of the Site, 1983. Private edition. Second ed. 1988

A later exposition of the substance of this book can be found in "The Structure of the Ordinary", published with MIT press in 1998.

As such it is the first comprehensive exposition of how constant 'laws' can be found when built environment is observed in terms of its transformations. Where the later version is more detached and more conventional in its organization, this earlier version has a more personal, even poetic, voice. It is still the work I love most of all my writings and consider it the most inspired writing I ever did.

In the book, the same subject matter - the built environment seen in terms of its transformations - is described three times, in three subsequent 'movements':

The first time in a terse, very compact series of statements setting forth the theory basically covered later in "Structure of the Ordinary".

The second time in terms of methodology: here examples are given as to how built environment can be analyzed and worked with once its transformations are taken in consideration.

The third time an impressionistic narrative is given, drawing from my own observations and experiences; thus revealing the raw material from which theory and method were forged.

Although the language in all three parts is fairly straightforward and without difficult terminology, the book was generally considered dense and difficult to read, particularly the first part. Apparently, the unfamiliar organization of the subject matter and the unfamiliar point of view discouraged many readers. I am nevertheless convinced that future generations will find it a fairly transparent exposition, once the point of view taken has become a common one.

I failed to get it published to my liking and had two private printings made the copies of which found their way to friends and their friends, through two subsequent limited editions.


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