A Pattern Language

A Pattern Language

Towns, Buildings, Construction

Book - 1977
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Baker & Taylor
Two hundred and fifty-three archetypal patterns consisting of problem statements, discussions, illustrations, and solutions provide lay persons with a framework for engaging in architectural design

Oxford University Press
You can use this book to design a house for yourself with your family; you can use it to work with your neighbors to improve your town and neighborhood; you can use it to design an office, or a workshop, or a public building. And you can use it to guide you in the actual process of construction.

After a ten-year silence, Christopher Alexander and his colleagues at the Center for Environmental Structure are now publishing a major statement in the form of three books which will, in their words, "lay the basis for an entirely new approach to architecture, building and planning, which will we hope replace existing ideas and practices entirely." The three books areThe Timeless Way of Building, The Oregon Experiment, and this book,A Pattern Language.

At the core of these books is the idea that people should design for themselves their own houses, streets, and communities. This idea may be radical (it implies a radical transformation of the architectural profession) but it comes simply from the observation that most of the wonderful places of the world were not made by architects but by the people.

At the core of the books, too, is the point that in designing their environments people always rely on certain "languages," which, like the languages we speak, allow them to articulate and communicate an infinite variety of designs within a forma system which gives them coherence. This book provides a language of this kind. It will enable a person to make a design for almost any kind of building, or any part of the built environment.

"Patterns," the units of this language, are answers to design problems (How high should a window sill be? How many stories should a building have? How much space in a neighborhood should be devoted to grass and trees?). More than 250 of the patterns in this pattern language are given: each consists of a problem statement, a discussion of the problem with an illustration, and a solution. As the authors say in their introduction, many of the patterns are archetypal, so deeply rooted in the nature of things that it seemly likely that they will be a part of human nature, and human action, as much in five hundred years as they are today.

Publisher: New York : Oxford University Press, 1977
ISBN: 9780195019193
0195019199
Characteristics: xliv, 1,171 p. : ill ; 21 cm
Additional Contributors: Silverstein, Murray
Ishikawa, Sara

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missy2
Aug 02, 2017

This excellent book should be mandatory reading for every muncipal/ city/ provincial representative who needs to make a decision regarding housing clusters, sidewalk to house ratio, public parks, walkability, trees as district boundaries, grey water usage, the restriction of neighbourhood size, and so much more. Basically, Ontario and its elected representatives have a lot to learn about making our cities more livable versus more densely packed and stressful. A bench and six trees named after a councillor does not make a park! Height limitations matter -- and affect noise level, access to sunshine, and one's sense of belonging to a real community! Everyone can learn a lot about important fundamental social needs by reading this book!!!

m
maroon_chicken
Jan 10, 2016

This book reads not like a guide for building houses, but like a bible for a new religion. Read this book now!

Architecture is like chemistry. You take the its elements and combine them to build structures. This book meticulously describes the elements of architecture, such as "public outdoor room," "children's home," and "light on two sides of every room." It also covers the design of towns.
I found it fascinating to read this very specific idea of how society should look. Besides being practical, this book is an interesting philosophical look at society. It makes me want to build a city/social networking site/house/lunar colony.

i
inkfish9808
Oct 27, 2015

I'm proud to say this book is at SPL because I jumped up and down and ranted to Sam Coghlan, then library CEO, about the sheer magic of Alexander's book. If you design stuff—or just love great design—you have to read this. A worthy successor to Stewart Brand's design writing in THE LAST WHOLE EARTH CATALOG. To address jasonruhl's note: yes, this book can tell you how to design anything. I know literally dozens of UX and UI designers who swear by it...and I've designed a software system around pattern analysis, inspired by the simple but deceptively profound insights here. Be well.

j
jasonruhl
May 04, 2011

Densely packed with information that has been arranged into a complete philosophy for planning, designing, and even using space that is well researched and documented. A great resource for those interested in exploring the meanings and reasoning behind architectural layout, organization, and the rules it follows. However, seeing as this book is some 30 years old, it feels somewhat dated and does not address some more modern architectural thought processes. It can also seem overbearing and too prescriptive at times. The authors tread a fine line between being too 'all encompassing' and being too vague. Can a book really tell you how to design anything, no matter where you are, from 'metropolis to room'?

diesellibrarian Sep 27, 2010

One of my favourite books of all time. There's really nothing that compares. If you're planning home or a remodel, the common-sense principles herein will help you to create a space where you can be "human." The principles are supported by research and anecdote, and well illustrated with real-world examples.

e
EveB
Dec 07, 2009

http://img.slate.com/id/2237109

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