A Pattern Language: Towns, Buildings, Construction / Edition 1

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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.

A handbook designed for the layman which aims to present a language which people can use to express themselves in their own communities.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"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

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780195019193
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 8/28/1977
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 1216
  • Sales rank: 90,354
  • Product dimensions: 5.70 (w) x 7.90 (h) x 2.00 (d)

Table of Contents

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

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 5
( 5 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 5 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 11, 2002

    Practical, Human, Brilliant

    If you know an architecture student, or someone interested in cities, urban planning, transportation, housing developments, building a school, home, park, or porch - buy this them this book. It employs a brilliant approach of starting with the largist architectural entity, and exploring the interaction of how it fits with everything it touches. This approach is carried down flawlessly to the fine detail of the home. Concepts of interaction between elements of different scale and delegation of space are a radical departure from merely allocating space. Hence its name, it suggests a common jargon, loaded with meaning, for people designing on any scope to use. Desinging a garden or porch, you'll want to think how it fits into the home, and community. Designing public transportation, you'll gain new perspectives on how cities and neighborhoods work. I can't even start to list the ways that htis book will engage your mind.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 14, 2013

    This is by the best money I have ever spent on a book. It is a v

    This is by the best money I have ever spent on a book. It is a very easy read by anyone with chapters short enough  for a 10 minute read an then put it down to mull it over.

    If you have ever wondered why some houses (or rooms) have lots of appeal and some don't, then this book will tell you why.

    It's a must have reference book for anyone planning any renovations too.

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  • Posted July 1, 2010

    A great book

    this book is a superb pattern overview for urban design with great insights in how real and thriving communities are grown and encouraged by design.

    (applications to virtual communities though largely a stretch)

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 14, 2002

    A architechural text for the layman.

    I am not an neither an architect nor builder, nor am I in the building trades, but I rate it as one of the most interesting books I have ever read and reread. Clear and concise, readable by anyone. A book you will keep; an excellent gift.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 9, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

Sort by: Showing all of 5 Customer Reviews

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