Jacana House

It is all about colours...

Christopher Alexander

Books by Christopher Alexander
Timeless Way of Building1979USAUK
A Pattern Language1977USAUK
The Oregan Experiment1988USAUK

Pattern Language

A Pattern Language has the structure of a network. It was brought together in a book of the same name by Christopher Alexander. The systematic way in which this language of architectural design elements can be used is explained fully in The Timeless Way of Building. A practical expression of the design process is described in The Oregan Experiment.

A broad sweep through the patterns can capture some idea of and summarises or indexes the full network. Once you get this overview, you will then be able to find the patterns which are relevant to your own project and from these, using neighboring patterns in the network, able to identify other patterns that you may want to include.

All 253 patterns together form a language. A sub-set of these patterns is also a language and constructing such a language is a fundamental step to creating a coherent picture for whatever project you have in mind. That picture could be of an entire region, with the power to generate millions of regional forms, with an infinite variety in the detail. A small sequence of patterns could also be a language for a envisioning a smaller part of the environment; and this small list of patterns is then capable of generating a million parks, paths, houses, workshops, or gardens.

This website activates the network and allows you to collect together the relevant patterns. To understand the full reasoning and to obtain the full detail for each of the patterns, you need to see the book A Pattern Language.

Here is the rough procedure by which you can choose a language for your own project :

  1. First print off a copy of the master sequence on which to tick off the patterns for your project.
  2. Scan down the list, and find the pattern which best describes the overall scope of the project.
  3. Read the starting pattern (better if you have the book). Notice the other patterns mentioned.
    • Asterisks indicate the degree of confirming evidence for the pattern. No asterisks - no confirmation.
    • Tick all of the Low Order Patterns unless you have some special reason for not including them.
    • Ignore all the High Order Patterns unless you have the power to create these larger patterns.
  4. Now your list has more ticks. Turn to each pattern and now tick only relevant Low Order Patterns.
  5. Keep going like this, until you have ticked all the patterns you want for your project.
  6. Adjust the sequence by adding your own material where you haven't found a corresponding pattern.
  7. Change any pattern where you have a personal version which is more true or more relevant.

Finally, conflate these patterns in as dense a way as possible. It is possible to put patterns together in such a way that many many patterns overlap in the same physical space. The building is very dense. It has many profound meanings and metaphors captured in a small space.