A Pattern Language: Towns, Buildings, Construction

Document Type: Book
Series: Center for environmental structure series (Volume 2)
Author: Christopher Alexander;
Sara Ishikawa; Murray Silverstein;
Max Jacobson; Ingrid Fiksdahl-King
Shlomo Angel.
Publisher:  New York: Oxford University Press
First edition: 1979
ISBN: 0195019199
ISBN13: 9780195019193




“At the core of the book 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 formal 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 neighbourhood 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 seems likely that they will be a part of human nature, and human action, as much in five hundred years as they are today”



1. Using this book

  • A Pattern language
  • Summary of the language
  • The poetry of the language

2. Patterns for the towns

Independent region; Distribution of towns; City country fringes; Agricultural value; Lack of country streets; Country towns; The countryside; Mosaic of subculture; Scattered work; Magic of the city; Scattered work; Magic of the city; Local transport areas;  Community of 7000; Subculture boundary; Identifiable neighbourhood; Neighbourhood boundary; Web of public transportation; Ring roads; Networking of learning; Web of shopping; Mini-buses; Four-story limit; Nine percent parking; Parallel roads sacred sites; Acess to water; Lifecycle; Men and women; Eccentric Nucleus; Desnity rings; Activity Nodes; Promenade; Shopping streets; Nightlife; Interchange; Household Mix; Degree of publicness; House cluster; Row houses; Housing hill; Old people everywhere; Work community; Industrial ribbon; University as a marketplace; Local town hall; Necklace of community projects; Markets of Many shops; Health center; Housing in between; Looped local roads; T junctions; Green streets; Networks of paths and cars; Main gateways; Road crossing; Raised walk; Bike paths and racks; Children in the city; Carnival; Quiet backs; Accessible green; Small public squares; High Places; Holy Grounds; Common lands; Connected play; Public outdoor room; Grave sites; Still water; Local sports; Adventure playground; Animals; The family; House for a small family; House for a couple; House for a one person; Your own home; Self-governing workshops and offices; Teenage society; Shopfront; Children’s home; Induiviallly owned home; Street cafe; Corner grocery; Beer hall; Traveler’s Inn; Bus stop; Food stands; Sleeping in public.

3. Patterns for the buildings

Building complex; Numbers of stories; Shielded parking; Circulation realms; Main buildings; Pedestrian street; Building thoroughfare; Family of entrances; Small parking lots; Site repair; South facing outdoors; Postive outdoor space; Wings of light; Connected buildings; Long thin house; Main entrance; Half-hidden garden; Entrance transition; Car Connection; Hierarchy of open space; Courtyards which live; Cascade of roofs; Sheltering roof; Roof garden; Arcades; Path and goals; Path shape; Building fronts; Pedestrian density; Activity pockets; Stair seats; Something roughly in the middle; Intimacy gradient; Indoor sunlight; Common areas at the heart; Entrance room; The flow through rooms; Short passages; Staircase as a stage; Zen view; Tapestry of light and dark; Couple’s Realm; Children’s Realm; Sleeping to the east; Farmhouse kitchen; Private terrace on the street; A room of one’s town; Sequences of sitting spaces; Bed cluster; Bathing room; Bulk storage; Flexible office space; Communal eating; Small work groups; Reception welcomes you; A place to wait; Small meeting rooms; Half private offices; Rooms to rent; Teenager’s cottage; Old age cottage; Settled works; Home workshop; Open stairs; Light on two sides of every room; Building edge; Sunny place; North face; Outdoor room; Street windows; Opening to the street; Gallery surround; Six-foot balcony; Connections to the earth;  Terraced slope; Fruit trees; Tree places; Garden growing wild; Garden wall; Trellised walk; Greenhouse; Garden seat; Vegetable garden; Compost; Alcoves; Window place; The fire; Eating atmosphere; Workspace enclosure; Cooking layout; Sitting circle; Communal sleeping; Marriage bed; Bed alcoves; Dressing room; Ceiling height variety; The shape of indoor space; Windows overlooking life; Half-open wall; Interior windows; Staircase volume; Corner doors; Thick walls; Closets between rooms; Sunny counter; Open shelves; Waist-high shelf; Built-in seats; Child caves; Secret place.

4. Patterns for the construction

Structure follows social spaces; Efficient structure; Good materials; Gradual stiffening; Roof layout; Floor and ceiling layouts; Thickening the outer walls; Columns at the corners; Final column distributions; Root foundations; Ground floor slab; Box columns; Perimeter beams; Wall membranes; Floor-ceiling vaults; Natural doors and windows; Low sill; Deep reveals; Low doorway; Framed as thickened edges; Column place; Column connection; Stair vault; Duct space; Radiant heat; Dormer windows; Roof caps; Floor surface; Lapped outside walls; Soft inside walls; Windows which open wide; Solid doors with glass; Filtered light; Small panes; Half-inch trim; Seat spots; Front door bench; Sitting wall; Canvas roofs; Raised flowers; Climbing plants; Paving with cracks between stones; Soft tile and bricks; Ornament; Warm colors; Different chairs; Pools of light; Things from your life.



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