Synopses & Reviews
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 are The 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.
"Brilliant....Here's how to design or redesign any space you're living or working in--from metropolis to room. Consider what you want to happen in the space, and then page through this book. Its radically conservative observations will spark, enhance, organize your best ideas, and a wondrous home, workplace, town will result." San Francisco Chronicle
"A wise old owl of a book, one to curl up with in an inglenook on a rainy day.... Alexander may be the closest thing home design has to a Zen master."--The New York Times
"A classic. A must read!"--T. Colbert, University of Houston
"The design student's bible for relativistic environmental design."--Melinda La Garce, Southern Illinois University
"Brilliant....Here's how to design or redesign any space you're living or working in--from metropolis to room. Consider what you want to happen in the space, and then page through this book. Its radically conservative observations will spark, enhance, organize your best ideas, and a wondrous home, workplace, town will result."--San Francisco Chronicle
"The most important book in architecture and planning for many decades, a landmark whose clarity and humanity give hope that our private and public spaces can yet be made gracefully habitable."--The Next Whole Earth Catalog
"I believe this to be perhaps the most important book on architectural design published this century. Every library, every school, every environmental action group, every architect, and every first year student should have a copy." Tony Ward, Architectural Design
A handbook designed for the layman which aims to present a language which people can use to express themselves in their own communities or homes, and to better communicate with each other.
A Pattern Language is a working document for a new theory of architecture, building, and planning which has, at its core, that age-old process by which the people of a society have always pulled the order of their world from their own being. It's an archetypal language which allows any lay person or group of persons to design any part of the environment for themselves. It applies equally to the design of houses, public buildings, neighborhoods, streets, gardens, and individual window seats.
In this volume, 253 archetypal patterns consisting of problem statements, discussions, illustrations, and solutions provide lay persons with a framework for engaging in architectural design.
About the Author
Christopher Alexander, winner of the first medal for research ever awarded by the American Institute of Architects, is a practicing architect and builder, Professor of Architecture at the University of California, Berkeley, and Director of the Center for Environmental Structure.
Table of Contents
USING THIS BOOK
A pattern language
Summary of the language
Choosing a language for your project
The poetry of the language
Using the language
Using the language
Using the language