Patterns. Christopher Alexander.


Christopher Alexander, the architect, was one of the first to put me onto patterns as a topic. Alexander noticed that beautiful buildings in history shared some common patterns, basic things like ‘light from two or more sides of the room’, that could be translated from one building to the next without determining the full design. He designed a full ‘pattern language’ that even people with no experience in architecture can use to design beautiful buildings, realising that these patterns aren’t so much geometrical as like a path in a landscape - patterns of activity and life.

Most modern buildings come from blueprints, drawn as shown. They don’t allow the design to evolve much during building, it’s a two-dimensional pattern pre-determined on the draughtperson’s table. So the buildings don’t really live. A building is not an object, it’s an interactive, ongoing creation. Patterns of movement and activity and materials determine how a building is built and how it gets shaped over time. Stewart Brand wrote a wonderful book about that.


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