Thursday, 7 May 2009

A Pattern Language

I want to thank Patricia for a wonderful addition to my library…one that I will be referencing for years to come.

a pattern language c.alexander I have known about the book “A Pattern Language” since the first year of college, but have never owned it. It is the second in a series of books which describe an entirely new attitude to architecture and planning. There are two other volumes in the series-

1- The Timeless Way of Building

2- A Pattern Language

3- The Oregon Experiment

Written in 1977, at the Center for Environmental Structure in Berkeley, California, it has influenced most most Architects, Planners and Designers. It was written by Christopher Alexander, Sara Ishikawa, Murray Silverstein, with, Max Jacobson, Ingrid Fikskahl-King and Shlomo Angel.

Activity Nodes, Magic of the City, Scattered Work, Closets Between Rooms, Ceiling Ht. Variety, Car Connection, Indoor Sunlight and Life Cycle are patterns that certainly tweak my interest to know more about the language, and how to use it…about the poetry and choosing and applying  it to the right subject.

The book is divided into thirds; Towns, Buildings, and Construction. Here is one example of a pattern from the first third of the book “Towns”  (70)Grave Sites- page 354

“No people who turn their backs on death can be alive- The presence of the dead among the living will be a daily fact in any society which encourages its people to live” he goes on the write “Never build massive cemeteries, instead, allocate pieces of land throughout the community as grave sites-corners of parks, sections of paths, gardens, beside gateways- where memorials to people who have died can be ritually placed with inscriptions and mementos which celebrate their life. Give each grave site an edge, a path and a quiet corner where people can sit. By custom this is hallowed ground”.

kelly gartner_ubc

It’s a small world, because last weekend, I went to see UBC’s Master of Architecture Students present their final projects, with my friend Jessica, who starts at UBC in September. One of the projects by Kelly Gartner, addressed this “living and dead scenario”

The second third of the book is titled “Buildings”.

“This completes the global patterns which define a town or a community. We now start that part of the language which gives shape to groups of buildings, and individual buildings, on the land, in thee dimensions. These are the patterns which can be “designed” or “built”- the patterns which define the individual buildings and the space between buildings, where we are dealing the the first time with patters that are under the control of individuals or small groups of individuals, who are able to build the patters all at once”

patterns of home20 years later the language was the influence for the book “Patterns of Home”. Max Jacobson (an original author of APL, along with another c0-author of APL, Murray Silverstein, wrote the book, along with Barbara Winslow. The book looks at the “ten essentials of enduring design in a residential context”. Max and Murray worked at Berkeley with Alexander from 67-74, and now all three run their own firm- JSW Architects.

I’m looking forward to reading every single page of Pattern Language! Thank you so much Patricia!!!


Terry said...

This is a remarkable book particularly for me, untrained in architecture / design / planning. It has the words and theory behind my own intuitions. So, when I find a place that makes me feel good (or bad), I can usually find out why in "A Pattern Language."

I don't know where these ideas stand among professionals today. Certainly new urbanism is a friend the Pattern Language ideas.

~ Patricia Gray ~ said...

Hi Michelle
You are more than welcome. I am so glad that you like the book and I look forward to more of your postings on this book, and to thought provoking discussions on the valuable content. There is so much more than meets the eye to the proper design and planning of our cities, communities, and homes.

Meade Design Group said...

Wow! That book that Patricia gave you looks so interesting. You will need to give the insights next time we see each other.

Terry said...

Hello Michelle, here is my Pattern Language post for today: Pattern 130 ENTRANCE ROOM I'm looking forward to reading more from you professionals about the design patterns.

DesignTies said...

These sound like really interesting books. I'm going to check them out -- thanks for letting us know about them :-)

And, thanks for mentioning that our blog was taking a while to load. I did what you suggested and switched to 5 posts/page -- it's much faster now :-)

Have a great weekend!!


pve design said...

There is indeed a pattern to life and death. In Kentucky, where I grew up, there is a wonderful cemetery, "Cave Hill" and it is gorgeous. My Father always would ask, you know you people are just die to
get into Cave Hill. Of course, we would laugh, My mom took us to feed the ducks and we would walk around and admire the beauty. Nothing to fear.