Archive for August, 2011


Ideas That Inspire Me

Alexander Book Cover

The Pattern Language by Christopher Alexander is a book I use on all of my residential projects and many of my commercial projects.  It is a great tool for allowing clients to communicate their wants and desires for a project back to the architect in a very architectural and sensitive way.  It is also great for the architect as a reminder and inspiration in making wonderful alive places for people.

Some years back I wrote,

I think this is the most sensitive and compelling treatment of the human condition as it relates to places and spaces I have found.  Every student should be handed this set by their professor on the first day of design studio.  Unfortunately Alexander’s work is not held in too high regard in most architecture schools.  One of my professors said that this work leads one to believe that creating architecture is a recipe process.  He has a point but the ideas in this book can be used intelligently and combined with bigger more artistic ideas about form making and profoundly meaningful architecture to great effect.

The structure of the book is laid out in 253 patterns to use in design.  The scale ranges from the region to the room and are not thought of as a finite list but rather a beginning to be added to over time.  Each pattern addresses a particular situation such as natural light in a room by basically stating a problem, discussing the issue and then stating a design strategy or feature to resolve the issue.  Below is partial list of the patterns and then the Pattern, Marriage Bed.  This book makes great reading even if you are not actively designing something.  There is a companion volume, The Timeless Way of Building that is best read before using this book in depth.