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A Pattern Language

A Pattern Language

Towns, Buildings, Construction

Book - 1977
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"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 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 a the problem with an illustration, sand a solution. As the authors say in their introduction, many of the patters 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"--Jacket
Publisher: New York : Oxford University Press, 1977
ISBN: 9780195019193
Characteristics: xliv, 1171 p. : ill. ; 21 cm
Additional Contributors: Ishikawa, Sara
Silverstein, Murray


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Dec 23, 2019

Missy 2 nailed it.

This is a must-read for everyone who hopes to challenge our corrupt city councils and planning departments, who have facilitated and encouraged a four-decade housing epidemic on the Lower Mainland. Just look at the junk housing going up everywhere in Surrey/White Rock where there is a small patch of vacant land. Between the horrible mostly Asian monster homes infecting otherwise modest single-family neighborhoods, driving up real estate prices, and the overcrowded, overpriced condos that force to negotiate repairs with inexpert neighbors, there is almost no choice.

Councils and planners MUST revisit these crucial principles of 'livability' to avoid expanding our already hostile urban ghettos - Richmond, for example, which no longer features signs in English - and the many homeless encampments b/c councils have been bribed to create shelter for wealthy foreign buyers and not the actual electorate, whose demographics are easily accessible.

UBC has more of Alexander's excellent works. I also recommend Wolfgang Preizer's treatise on barrier free. For TOO LONG we have allowed developers to avoid accessible/inclusive/barrier free design b/c of their greed. This has forced many seniors to give up beloved homes for today's junk housing. Consumers must DEMAND fully accessible housing in an amount local demographics indicate. If the local developers aren't up to the job, there is nothing to stop their European superiors from submitting bids.

Frankly, construction on the Lower Mainland is so awful, I would strip UBC Architecture and Engineering faculties of their credentials - BCIT, too. We've had four decades of their handiwork. Declare fiasco and let's see what talent we might attract to this paradise of geography.

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!!!

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.

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.

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.

Dec 07, 2009


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