πŸ“š node [[patterns]]



patterns resemble DNA, a set of instructions that are underspecified so that they can be adapted to local circumstances. "Does the DNA contain a full description of the organism to which it will give rise?" asks [[Christopher Alexander]]

– [[Free, Fair and Alive]]

πŸ“– stoa (open document) at doc.anagora.org/patterns
β₯… related node [[a-pattern-language]] pulled by user

A Pattern Language




Book outline notes


A pattern language

  • A [[A Pattern Language]] and [[The Timeless Way of Building]] evolved in parallel and consistute two halves of a whole.

  • "The elements of this language are entities called patterns. Each pattern describes a problem which occurs over and over again in our environment, and then describes the core of the solution to that problem, in such a way that you can use this solution a million times over, without ever doing it the same way twice."

  • "For convenience and clarity, each pattern has the same format."

      1. "First, there is a picture, which shows an archetypal example of that pattern."
      1. "Second, after the picture, each pattern has an introductory paragraph, which sets the context for the pattern, by explaining how it helps to complete certain larger patterns."
      • context stands out to me as an important term here
      1. "Then there are three diamonds to mark the beginning of the problem. After the diamonds there is a headline, in bold type. The headline gives the essence of the problem in one or two sentences."
      1. "After the headline comes the body of the problem."
      1. "Then, again in bold type, like the headline, is the solution - the heart of the pattern - which describes the field of physical and social relationships which are required to solve the stated problem, in the stated context. This solution is always stated in the form of an instruction - so that you know exactly what you need to do, to build the pattern."
      1. "Then, after the solution, there is a diagram, which shows the solution in the form of a diagram, with labels to indicate its main components."
      1. "After the diagram, another three diamonds, to show that the main body of the pattern is finished. And finally, after the diamonds there is a paragraph which ties the pattern to all those smaller patterns in the language, which are needed to complete this pattern, to embellish it, to fill it out."
  • "There are two essential purposes behind this format.

    • First, to present each pattern connected to other patterns, so that you grasp the collection of all 253 patterns as a whole, as a language, within which you can create an in-finite variety of combinations.
    • Second, to present the problem and solution of each pattern in such a way that you can judge it for yourself, and modify it, without losing the essence that is central to it."
  • The patterns are ordered, in descending order in terms of scale (thus one can nest the patterns)

    • "This order, which is presented as a straight linear sequence, is essential to the way the language works"
    • "Each pattern is connected to certain "larger" patterns which come above it in the language; and to certain "smaller" patterns which come below it in the language. The pattern helps to complete those larger patterns which are "above" it, and is itself completed by those smaller pat-terns which are "below" it"
    • "In short, no pattern is an isolated entity. Each pattern can exist in the world, only to the extent that is supported by other patterns: the larger patterns in which it is embedded, the patterns of the same size that surround it, and the smaller patterns which are embedded in it."
    • "This is a fundamental view of the world. It says that when you build a thing you cannot merely build that thing in isolation, but must also repair the world around it, and within it, so that the larger world at that one place becomes more coherent, and more whole; and the thing which you make takes its place in the web of na-ture, as you make it."
  • The relation between problems and solutions with individual patterns

    • "Each solution is stated in such a way that it gives the essential field of relationships needed to solve the problem, but in a very general and abstract way - so that you can solve the problem for yourself, in your own way, by adapting it to your preferences, and the local conditions at the place where you are making it."
    • "For this reason, we have tried to write each solution in a way which imposes nothing on you. It contains only those essentials which cannot be avoided if you really want to solve the problem. In this sense, we have tried, in each solution, to capture the invariant property common to all places which succeed in solving the problem."
      • Why assume that there are any invariants at all?
      • Are there problems with multiple and mutually incomensurable solutions?
  • Why they wrote the book(s)

    • "The fact is, that we have written this book as a first step in the society-wide process by which people will gradually become conscious of their own pattern languages, and work to improve them."

Summary of the language

  • "A pattern language has the structure of a network."

  • "However, when we use the network of a language, we always use it as a sequence, going through the patterns, moving always from the larger patterns to the smaller, always from the ones which create structures, to the ones which then embellish those structures, and then to those which embellish the embellishments"

  • "Towns" patterns; large scale, collective patterns

    • "We begin with that part of the language which defines a town or community. These patterns can never be "de-signed" or "built" in one fell swoop-but patient piece-meal growth, designed in such a way that every individual act is always helping to create or generate these larger global patterns, will, slowly and surely, over the years, make a community that has these global patterns in it."
  • "Buildings" patterns; inividual or small group scale

    • "These are the patterns which can be "designed" or "built"-the patterns which define the individual build-ings and the space between buildings; where we are deal-ing for the first time with patterns that are under the control of individuals or small groups of individuals, who are able to build the patterns all at once."
  • "Construction" patterns

    • "The next, and last part of the language, tells how to make a buildable building directly from this rough scheme of spaces, and tells you how to build it, in detail."

Choosing a language for your project

  • "any small sequence of patterns from this language is itself a language for a smaller part of the environment"

  • Concrete example of building a porch

  • "Rough procedure by which you can choose a language for your own project, first by taking patters from this language we have printed here, and then by adding patterns of your own."

      1. Make a copy of the master sequence of the whole language on which you can tick off the patterns which will form the sub3language for your project.
      1. Find the pattern which best describes the overall scope of the project you have in mind. This is the starting pattern for your project. Tick it.
      1. Turn to the starting pattern itself, in the book, and read it through. Notice that the other patterns men-tioned by name at the beginning and at the end, of the pattern you are reading, are also possible candidates for your language. The ones at the beginning will tend to be "larger" than your project. Don't include them, unless you have the power to help create these patterns, at least in a small way, in the world around your project. The ones at the end are "smaller." Almost all of them will be important. Tick all of them, on your list, unless you have some special reason for not wanting to include them.
      1. Now your list has some more ticks on it. Turn to the next highest pattern on the list which is ticked, and open the book to that pattern. Once again, it will lead you to other patterns. Once again, tick those which are relevant-especially the ones which are "smaller" that come at the end. As a general rule, do not tick the ones which are "larger" unless you can do something about them, concretely, in your own project.
      1. When in doubt about a pattern, don't include it. Your list can easily get too long: and if it does, it will become confusing. The list will be quite long enough, even if you only include the patterns you especially like.
      1. Keep going like this, until you have ticked all the patterns you want for your project.
      1. Now, adjust the sequence by adding your own ma-terial. If there are things you want to include in your project, but you have not been able to find patterns which correspond to them, then write them in, at an appropri-ate point in the sequence, near other patterns which are of about the same size and importance. For example, there is no pattern for a sauna. If you want to include one, write it in somewhere near BATHING ROOM ( 144) m your sequence.
      1. And of course, if you want to change any patterns, change them. There are often cases where you may have a personal version of a pattern, which is more true, or more relevant for you. In this case, you will get the most "power" over the language, and make it your own most effectively, if you write the changes in, at the appropri-ate places in the book. And, it will be most concrete of all, if you change the name of the pattern too-so that it captures your own changes clearly.
  • 3 different instructions for 3 different scales of patterns

    • "Suppose now that you have a language for your proj-ect. The way to use the language depends very much on its scale. Patterns dealing with towns can only be implemented gradually, by grass roots action; patterns for a building can be built up in your mind, and marked out on the ground; patterns for construction must be built physically, on the site. For this reason we have given three separate instructions, for these three different scales. For towns, see page 3; for buildings, see page 46 3; for construction, see page 9 35."

The poetry of the language

  • "Finally, a note of caution. This language, like English, can be a medium for prose, or a medium for poetry. The difference between prose and poetry is not that different languages are used, but that the same language is used, differently.In an ordinary English sentence, each word has one meaning, and the sentence too, has one simple meaning. In a poem, the meaning is far more dense. Each word carries several meanings; and the sentence as a whole carries an enormous density of interlocking meanings, which together illuminate the whole."
  • "The same is true for pattern languages. It is possible to make buildings by stringing together patterns, in a rather loose way. A building made like this, is an assembly of patterns. It is not dense. It is not profound. But it is also 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 meanings captured in a small space; and through this density, it becomes profound."
  • "But this kind of compression is not only poetic and profound. It is not only the stuff of poems and exotic statements, but to some degree, the stuff of every English sentence. To some degree, there is compression in every single word we utter, just because each word carries the whisper of the meanings of the words it is connected to. Even "Please pass the butter, Fred" has some compression in it, because it carries overtones that lie in the con-nections of these words to all the words which came be-fore it.
  • Each of us, talking to our friends, or to our families, makes use of these compressions, which are drawn out from the connections between words which are given by the language. The more we can feel all the connections in the language, the more rich and subtle are the things we say at the most ordinary times."


Using the language

  • "We believe that the patterns presented in this section can be implemented best by piecemeal processes, where each project built or each planning decision made is sanc-tioned by the community according as it does or does not help to form certain large-scale patterns. We do not be-lieve that these large patterns, which give so much struc-ture to a town or of a neighborhood, can be created by centralized authority, or by laws, or by master plans. We believe instead that they can emerge gradually and or-ganically, almost of their own accord, if every act of building, large or small, takes on the responsibility for gradually shaping its small corner of the world to make , these larger patterns appear there."



Using the language

  • "We assume that, based on the instructions m "Summary of the Language," you have already constructed a sequence of patterns. We shall now go through a step-by-step procedure for building this sequence into a design."
      1. The basic instruction is this: Take the patterns in the order of the sequence, one by one, and let the form grow from the fusion of these patterns, the site, and your own instincts.
      1. It is essential to work on the site, where the project is to be built; inside the room that is to be remodeled; on the land where the building is to go up; and so forth. And as far as possible, work with the people that are actually going to use the place when it is finished: if you are the user, all the better. But, above all, work on the site, stay on the site, let the site tell you its secrets.
      1. Remember too, that the fo,;m will grow gradually as you go through the sequence, beginning as something very loose and amorphous, gradually becoming more and more complicated, more refined and more differ-entiated, more finished. Don't rush this process. Don't give the form more order than it needs to meet the pat-terns and the conditions of the site, each step of the way. In effect, as you build each pattern into the design, you will experience a single gestalt that is gradually becom-ing more and more coherent.
      1. Take one pattern at a time. Open the page to the first one and read it again. The pattern statement de-scribes the ways in which other patterns either influence this pattern, or are influenced by it. For now, this infor-mation is useful only in so far as it helps you to envision the one pattern before you, as a whole.
      1. Now, try to imagine how, on your particular site, you can establish this pattern. Stand on the site with your eyes closed. Imagine how things might be, if the pattern, as you have understood it, had suddenly sprung up there overnight. Once you have an image of how it might be, walk about the site, pacing out approximate areas, marking the walls, using string and cardboard, and putting stakes in the ground, or loose stones, to mark the important corners.
      1. Complete your thought about this pattern, before you go on to the next one. This means you must treat the pattern as an "entity"; and try to conceive of this entity, entire and whole, before you start creating any other patterns.
      1. The sequence of the language will guarantee that you will not have to make enormous changes which can-cel out your earlier decisions. Instead, the changes you make will get smaller and smaller, as you build in more and more patterns, like a series of progressive refine-ments, until you finally have a complete design.
      • [ This seems like a key point ! ]
      1. Since you are building up your design, one pattern at a time, it is essential to keep your design as fluid as possible, while you go from pattern to pattern. As you use the patterns, one after another, you will find that you keep needing to adjust your design to accommo-date new patterns. It is important that you do this in a loose and relaxed way, without getting the design more fixed than necessary, and without being afraid to make changes. The design can change as it needs to, so long as you maintain the essential relationships and charac-teristics which earlier patterns have prescribed. You will see that it is possible to keep these essentials constant, and still make minor changes in the design. As you in-clude each new pattern, you readjust the total gestalt of your design, to bring it into line with the pattern you are working on.
      1. While you are imagining how to establish one pat-tern, consider the other patterns listed with it. Some are larger. Some are smaller. For the larger ones, try to see how they can one day be present in the areas you are working on, and ask yourself how the pattern you are now building can contribute to the repair or formation of these larger patterns.
      1. For the smaller ones, make sure that your concep-tion of the main pattern will allow you to make these smaller patterns within it later. It will probably be help-ful if you try to decide roughly how you are going to build these smaller patterns in, when you come to them.
      1. Keep track of the area from the very beginning so that you are always reasonably close to something you can actually afford. We have had many experiences in which people try to design their own houses, or other buildings, and then get discouraged because the final cost is too high, and they have to go back and change it.
      1. Each time you use a pattern to differentiate the layout of your building fur-ther, keep this total area in mind, so that you do not, ever, allow yourself to go beyond your budget.
      1. Finally, make the essential points and lines which are needed to fix the pattern, on the site with bricks, or sticks or stakes. Try not to design on paper; even in the case of complicated buildings find a way to make your marks on the site.



Using the language

  • "The patterns in this last section present a physical atti-tude to construction that works together with the kinds of buildings which the second part of the pattern language generates. These construction patterns are intended for builders-whether professional builders, or amateur owner-builders."

  • "Each pattern states a principle about structure and materials. These principles can be implemented in any number of ways when it comes time for actual building. We have tried to state various ways in which the principles can be built. But, partly because these patterns are the least developed, and partly because of the nature of building patterns, the reader will very likely have much to add to these patterns. For example, the actual materials used to implement them will vary greatly from region to region . . ."

  • "Perhaps the main thing to bear in mind, as you look over this material, is this: Our intention in this section has been to provide an alternative to the technocratic and rigid ways of building that have become the legacy of the machine age and modern architecture."

  • "The way of building described here leads to buildings that are unique and tailored to their sites. It depends on builders taking responsibility for their work; and work-ing out the details of the building as they go-mocking up entrances and windows and the dimensions of spaces, making experiments, and building directly according to the results."

  • "the patterns themselves in this section are both more concrete, and more abstract, than any other patterns in the language."

  • "They are more concrete because, with each pattern, we have always given at least one interpretation which can be built directly. For instance, with the pattern ROOT FOUNDATION, we have given one particular interpreta-tion, to show that it can be done, and also to give the reader an immediate, and practical, buildable approach to construction."

  • "Yet at the same time, they are also more abstract. The particular concrete formulation which we have given for each pattern, can also be interpreted, and remade in a thousand ways. Thus, it is also possible to take the gen-eral idea of the pattern, the idea that the foundation functions like a tree root, in the way that it anchors the building in the ground-and invent a dozen entirely dif-ferent physical systems, which all work in this funda-mental way. In this sense, these patterns are more ab-stract than any others in the book, since they have a wider range of possible interpretations."



β₯… related node [[pattern]] pulled by user


β₯… related node [[wikilinks]] pulled by user

Feel free to use [[[[backlinks]]]], [[wikilinks]], [[edges]], [[multilinks]], or [[whatever the fuck you want to call it]] anywhere when talking to me in reference to something on the [[anagora]] or otherwise, my browser will resolve wikilinks in the default order, aside from duckduckgo as the 3rd step for unprefixed.

What?! [[Wikilinks Everywhere]], enjoy πŸ₯°!


  • im also tempted to rebrand wikilinks
    • it's kinda a weird word
    • it's not the selling point for people to join the [[agora]] I thought it was going to be
  • wikilinks are cool, I just feel like they need a cooler name
  • potential alternative names
    • netlinks
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