Oxford University Press
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 workshop, or public building. And you can use it to guide you in the actual process of construction.
After a ten-your 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, The Timeless Way of Building, The Oregon Experiment, and this book, A Pattern Language, are described on the back cover.
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 come simply from the observation that most of the wonderful places of the world were not made by architects but by people.
At the core of these 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 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, our answers to design problems (How high should a window sill be? How many stories should a building have? How much space in the 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 archetypical, so deeply rooted in the nature of things that it seems likely that they will be part of human nature, and human action, as much in five hundred years as they are today.
Christopher Alexander, winner of the first medal for research ever awarded by the American Institute of Architects, is a practising architect and builder, Professor of Architecture at the University of California, Berkeley, and head of the Center for Environmental Structure. Sara Ishikawa is a licensed architect, and Assistant Professor of Architecture at the University of California. Murray Silverstein also teaches at the University of California and has written several articles on pattern languages. Max Jacobson is a Ph.D. in architecture and also teaches at the University of California. Ingrid Fiksdahl King is an architect and painter. Shlomo Angel has a Ph.D. in city planning and now teaches at the Asian Institute of Technology, Bangkok. The six of them, together with others, have worked for eight years to write this book.