Pattern language christopher alexander pdf


PATTERN. LANGUAGE. 'TOWNS • B U II, D J N GS • CONSTRUCTION. Christopher Alexander. Sara Ishikawa Murray Silverstein with. Max Jacobson Ingrid. PDF | A Pattern Language by Christopher Alexander is renowned for providing simple, conveniently formatted, humanist solutions to complex. Christopher Alexander. Sara Ishikawa Murray Silverstein volume I THE TIMELESS WAY OF BUILDING volume 2 A PATTERN LANGUAGE. Volume 3 THE.

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Pattern Language Christopher Alexander Pdf

After a ten-year silence, Christopher Alexander and his colleagues at the Center for Way of Building, The Oregon Experiment, and this book,A Pattern Language. A Pattern Language - Ebook download as PDF File .pdf) or read book online. A Pattern The Timeless Way of Building [Christopher Alexander] []. A Pattern Language: Towns, Buildings, Construction is a book on architecture, urban design, and community livability. It was authored by Christopher Alexander, Sara Ishikawa and Murray . Print/export. Create a book · Download as PDF · Printable version.

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. 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 can serve as a role model for all creating, building, designing, developing, protecting, healing, teaching, learning and managing Principles and methods that Alexander found in architecture have proven useful in other domains, like educational design, the design of computer user interfaces and the building of communities — to name just a few. There are general insights that concern everyone.

Alexander is best known for his pattern language concept. A pattern language is a collection of reusable problem-solution-patterns — also known a s design patterns. Pattern languages are created for specific fields of design and can be understood as mental toolboxes containing the patterns like tools. These concepts have become standard in the university curricula of computer science; modern software development builds on them.

Furthermore, Wikipedia should not be seen as an isolated phenomenon; it includes the wiki system as its direct predecessor and spreads to the social media which developed in its keel water.

A Pattern Language

These two examples can be likened to the tip of an iceberg, hinting at a large body of substantial insights. Currently, this theoretical substance is only visible to insiders but why is Alexander not known to a wider public? This may explain why Alexander is currently known primarily to insiders. It is a pity, I think, that Alexander is not better known.

They support people in sharing their knowledge and in unfolding their creative potential. Each of these three books can help you to access the ideas of Christopher Alexander, each through its own perspective. Because his parents, both archeologists, were Catholic and Jewish, the family emigrated to England in to be secure from the Nazis. After studying mathematics and architecture at the University of Cambridge, Alexander became the first doctoral student in architecture at Harvard University.

His dissertation, Notes on the Synthesis of Form, brought computer mathematics to design by basing the design process on a network analysis of requirements Alexander, He received support to found his own institute, the Center for Environmental Structure, which became the hub of his research, building and teaching for more than three decades.


There, he and his colleagues rethought architecture and design from the ground up. His books Houses Generated by Patterns Alexander et al. Christopher Alexander — An Introduction 3 Alexander came into conflict with contemporary architects and the building industry, which he criticized for a lack of quality. He fought this war for decades, writing some articles and 16 books. Alexander also built the award-winning Eishin Campus near Tokyo which serves as a major showcase and earned him cult status in Japan Alexander et al.

The most influential book A Pattern Language Alexander et al. It was not only interesting to architects but inspired readers from other disciplines like software development, user interface design, project and innovation management, music, education and social activism.

Theorists and practicians of various domains started to use his methods and concepts, especially the pattern language and the design pattern. Finally, in a four-volume magnum opus The Nature of Order Alexander, , he elevated his approach to a new discipline of science which departs from mechanistic thinking.

For these books he researched biological and architectural systems side by side and found far-reaching parallels in the structures and processes of biology and architecture. Illustration 1 gives a visual account of these universal properties, diagrams which I created for teaching the 15 properties. The properties offer a language to describe general spatial 4 Christopher Alexander — An Introduction systems and offer dimensions for changing such systems. I also think that these properties are categories of form, which would give them an additional epistemological status.

Now, in , Alexander is living as a Professor Emeritus in the south of England; while he has become old and his health is delicate, he is still a source of wisdom and a polarizing man. His research includes various scales: regional development and cultural landscapes, urban planning, the design of buildings, interior design, ornamentation and painting. When revisiting design examples of many cultures and eras, Alexander found that many extraordinary designs did not stem from the single inspirations of ingenious individuals.

Rather, he found they were the results of incremental processes of continuous adaptation and improvement to existing schemes and configurations.

Ideally, forms and functions interact — based on human needs — until they become an inseparable unity. Cultural landscapes like Southern England or the Toscana, cities like Venice or villages from the Cinque Terre can serve as examples. Over long time spans, numerous people designed according to their needs, within their traditional concepts of building and, typically, using local materials. A great deal of this work has been done by ordinary people; often we do not even know their names.

These designers used knowledge that was not necessarily written down; it was orally shared and passed from generation to generation, or existed as an unspoken knowledge of people simply being used to doing things in certain ways. As far as they were able, designers also expressed cultural values and spiritual concepts in their designs. This can be seen as just another function of architecture filling just another need of human beings.

This means that the word function is used in a holistic way, not as a reduction.

Alexander researched this specific creative process, one he also calls living process and generative process. He found such methods of refining things at all times and so named the book about this topic The Timeless Way of Building. This is near to the ideas of Tao and Zen. In doing this research, his outlook was building on some 3, years of architectural history.

The broadness of this empirical basis makes us realise that neither he nor his colleagues were overwhelmed by modern or post-modern glass, steel and concrete architectures. But this should never be seen as traditionalism; for Alexander, this is a pure question of design quality.

A Pattern Language

People are taught, in the course of fashionable trends, what is beautiful and what they are meant to spend their Christopher Alexander — An Introduction 5 money on.

Students of architecture are taught to like the kind of buildings that are produced by contemporary architects; it is not long before they perceive them as beautiful.

The concept of beauty, therefore, can hardly be used as the core concept of objective research. Alexander only returned to the concept of beauty in his late book The Battle for the Life and the Beauty of the Earth Alexander et al. Alexander developed a unique concept of quality that correlates with — but is not not identical to — beauty and which replaces beauty for most purposes.

The English language has no word that really fits this quality, therefore Alexander often calls it the quality without a name. This is the quality of living systems — living in a non-biological sense — a quality that shows in the interaction of structures and their users, as in the term living city. This quality emerges from the generative processes in which people try to support and enrich their lives to their needs, solve their problems and build a basis for their freedom.

This quality has a lot to do with the minute adaptations that happen over the life-span of objects. For example, no house, garden or city stays as it is initially built. Alexander circumscribes the quality without a name in his book The Timeless Way of Building — using some 20 pages of text — by using the partial aspects alive, whole, comfortable, free, exact, egoless, eternal, not simply beauty, not only fitness for purpose, and slightly bitter.

In the past decades the quality without a name has often been replaced by the terms wholeness, aliveness, vitality, vibrancy, or liveliness; sometimes it has even been abbreviated to QWAN. There seems to exist no good equivalent in English and one has to be willing to look at a phenomenon that is somehow veiled by that language.

The German language has a name for this quality. In everyday German communication, people describe a story, a community, a drawing, or a lecture as lebendig and everyone understands this in the way Alexander means it. Alexander also found that everyone has a natural feeling for this quality, and that everyone can use this feeling during a design process to make design choices.

Such designs relate to the needs of people and support life in general. The design knowledge can be understood by patterns, patterns which are passed on from generation to generation with only a little added by single designers.

Alexander pioneered an approach to collect this design knowledge by writing pattern descriptions, by collecting them systematically, and by publishing them as pattern language books. Design knowledge can, thus, be shared effectively to create living systems — living systems which appear as the ideal goals of all design. This book described patterns of architecture across some 1, pages. An expert architect, Alexander opened his mind and gave all his deepest insights to his readers, resulting in a non-fiction bestseller.

Taken together, these many patterns form a pattern language similar to a natural language. And, just as a natural language can be used to tell an unlimited number of stories, so a pattern language can be used to create an unlimited number of designs.

A Pattern Language - Wikipedia

Pattern languages thus enable us to be creative, in the same way as natural languages enable us to communicate. It is less known and thinner, but just as important. It describes the creative processes that have been used and will be used, everywhere and at all times. It explains how to make use of the patterns and pattern languages for design. In fact, these two books were meant to be one but, because of the 1, pages, this was impossible.

In his magnum opus, The Nature of Order — , Alexander reworked the core messages of the two books, added a number of concepts and raised his theories to the next level of maturity. A complete understanding of Alexander, therefore, cannot be built on his books of the s and s alone. Alexander deals with life-supporting top-quality design at all scales; the living city is just one example.

He argues that the overall goal of all design is to support people to have a life without stress and to create environments that enable them to be free. This requires a minute adaptation of the built Christopher Alexander — An Introduction 7 structures, something which is only possible when the people themselves are involved in the design processes, when they can contribute their system knowledge, when they have their own needs respected, and when they are also part of the decision-making.

Developing his theories, Alexander studied the whole history of architecture and demonstrated, in his own projects, that his suggested practice is possible. Step by step he provides all the concepts of an alternative method of design.

His method competes with that of mainstream architecture which mainly follows the logic of a capitalist building industry, mostly excluding people from the design process.

This meant a new approach for providing knowledge and for involving people in designing and decision making. We see pattern languages used in software development, user interface design, project management, music, education, civil society, organizational development, disaster prevention, human action, personal development and many other domains. More than a hundred books on patterns have already been published in various disciplines, as well as more and more scientific papers and theses.

In software development, the patterns method is taught at universities and has, thus, become mainstream. A few snapshots of these developments follow: In , a group of renowned software professionals led by Ward Cunningham, Ralph Johnson, Grady Booch, Kent Beck and Jim Coplien founded an organization, The Hillside Group, to research and promote the pattern approach. In Ward Cunningham invented the wiki system for the shared authoring of patterns and developed it step by step, technically and socially.

The name wiki came from the first such system, named Wiki Wiki Web and Portland Pattern Repository, that served a community of 2, developers well for more than 10 years.

There is much more than I could mention here. Being a software developer involved in these developments, a member of this first wiki community and an early member of the German Wikipedia, I can testify to this. It is clear to me: Wikipedia would not exist today without Alexander; and even social media would not have developed the way it has without the pioneer work done in these early community systems.

A group of software developers around Erich Gamma was especially successful in finding new and interesting patterns. Their book, Design Patterns, which describes 23 fundamental software patterns, was the 8 Christopher Alexander — An Introduction breakthrough publication Gamma et al.

This is documented in the various conference proceedings and an early overview is given in the Pattern Almanach by Linda Rising Rising, This is based on the contributions of Richard Gabriel, a software architect and fiction writer who combined the best practices of both fields Gabriel, Patterns have become a big thing in software, much bigger than I can show here. Alexander enjoys cult status in Japan.

I already mentioned his Eishin Campus project which is one reason for this. But Alexander also integrated many elements of Eastern thinking, which makes him attractive for Eastern cultures. Currently, a project is in progress to translate all his 14 books into Japanese. Two books are already available; the others will follow. An outstanding Japanese pattern researcher, Professor Takashi Iba of Keio University, Tokyo, has started to use patterns in learning, collaboration, innovation, and has also defined a field, human action.

Here, the design target is not a physical artifact but human interactions and relationships.

More than 4, of his students have already passed various pattern-related workshops and have created more than 20 pattern languages containing more than patterns.

Most remarkable to me is his recent book Words for a Journey: The Art of Being with Dementia which contains a pattern language of 40 patterns Iba, In , their Public Sphere Project gathered hundreds of academics worldwide.

Working for years, they collected patterns for a more social use of information technology, publishing the best patterns in the book Liberating Voices: A pattern language for communication revolution.

Schuler, Rob Hopkins is the founder and figurehead of the Transition Towns movement. They focus on making communities more sustainable and resilient with respect to global problems like peak oil and climate change.

The Transition Towns movement offers solutions that strengthen neighbor relationships and the local economy, compatible with permaculture. In , Hopkins saw that the linear, step approach of community development they used was too limiting; he therefore changed this into a pattern approach Hopkins, Christopher Alexander — An Introduction 9 Th e GroupWorks Project, a group of numerous renowned civic society activists, has collected 92 patterns of group dynamics, civic intelligence, collaboration and co-creativity.

In addition, they have pioneered a light- weight pattern language format. They published their patterns as a card deck, each pattern on one card GroupWorks, Ideal for interactive use at seminars and workshops, this medium is also attractive for other authors because such a card deck takes considerably less effort than writing a book.

Many others have considered this pattern card format or have already used it Leitner, Schuler, Iba, c, l, p. His workgroup focuses on the interface of information technology and economy, and offers a wide spread of pattern applications. Besides other topics, they work on making the pattern concept fruitful for the movie industry and have developed an open source software, Patternpedia, for the systematic collection of patterns and pattern instances.

The idea is that technicians can only design successful products for firefighters if they fully understand the systemic situations in which their products will be used. Denef shows how this can be accomplished by a pattern language approach. Currently, dozens, perhaps hundreds, of theses on pattern topics are in progress. We will see the results in years to come.

In many fields of society people have the feeling that a shift towards a more community-oriented way of thinking is desirable. Whenever something is designed — shaped, managed, created, developed or protected, A pattern research community is forming, containing a rich diversity of disciplines and with the disciplines of architecture and software as strong pillars.

Although I have tried to summarize the important pattern research work done in various disciplines, I am painfully aware of the incompleteness of this attempt. The bibliography contains some additional publications, and I apologize in advance to any important researchers which I failed to mention.

At that time, although numerous professors at 10 Christopher Alexander — An Introduction universities taught his concepts to their students, this movement was not strong enough to change the mainstream of architecture and building practice. The impulse ebbed away. And, today, most universities have removed Alexander from their curricula of architecture. A moderate number of architects and theorists, maybe a few hundred world-wide, commit to Alexander, testify to his concepts, teach him at universities or publish articles, books and websites accordingly.

I will give just a few examples. On his website Kubala, you can see how he testifies to the ideas of Alexander, the 15 properties and the concept of wholeness, the use of patterns to communicate knowledge and the change of the quality of relationships to the clients. He publishes books which build on and augment the work of Alexander, especially regarding the spatial structures of living systems Salingaros; , Michael Mehaffy is an urbanist and critical thinker in complexity and the built environment.

He and Nikos Salingaros have co-authored numerous articles introducing aspects of the work of Alexander. Alexander insists that profit thinking must not dominate the act of designing, and shows how this applies in his own projects. He works within fixed budgets and optimizes design by a trade-off of features only. This applies throughout the building process, when the insights of all designers and stakeholders grow as the project unfolds.

The project plans change while building, something which runs counter to the habits of the building industry and requires more communication and collaboration; it may even require new kinds of building contracts. Christopher Alexander — An Introduction 11 Only a few architects have been able to free themselves from the procedures of a building industry which follows the logic of the capitalist economy and most architects did not change their way of working.

But this industrial system, as it exists today, is on a collision course with the hard physical reality. Everyone should be able to see that our world is at its limits as crisis after crisis shows. Today it is safe to say that Christopher Alexander is a kind of moral authority in the field of architecture. The architectural revolution which Alexander wanted to initiate has not taken place. One could look at this as a failure, and Alexander himself thinks that way.

I prefer to think that the suggested transition is more difficult than expected and just needs more time, maybe a decade or two. Anyway, a change is long overdue.

Alexander has shown how people can jointly design their own environments and that they are happier with the results they have co-created.

Alexander also shows that this is a way that humans can integrate with nature, a way to build without destroying the world. As I have shown in the previous section, pattern methods have proven fruitful in many disciplines outside of architecture.

I assume that the success of pattern thinking in other disciplines will eventually reach the attention of a wider public and cause a re-evaluation of Alexander in architecture. Always assuming the architects are not quicker in achieving this on their own.

For example, complex systems become living systems; diversity appears as an asset and not a burden. Total control is not a goal, participation is. Hard problems turn into simple problems. These are symptoms of a paradigm shift. Kuhn explored the history of scientific progress. He observed that the great scientific innovations changed the way people thought about the world and he named these changes paradigm shifts.

These are the big steps forward, steps which form the basis for the small progressive steps of everyday science that add detail to the big picture. Kuhn shows that core ideas often exist for a long time before they become mainstream. A core idea needs to prove its superiority, for example by creating something powerful or by solving an old and pressing problem.

For example, the heliocentric model already existed in ancient times but it was considered a speculation. Kuhn was criticized for not being clear when he used the word paradigm with different meanings.

The paradigm shift happens when a core idea becomes mainstream, first in a smaller science community and then in society. For the book, Grabow worked directly with Alexander for many months. Some hours of conversations were recorded. Selected parts of the transcriptions, about 80 pages — original Alexander thoughts which can be found nowhere else — became part of the book.

You will not find critical reflections by Grabow in this book. On the other hand, it is interesting to see some self-critique by Alexander related to his own ideas; for example the way he felt he had failed with the objectives of the generative process. The generative process was meant to provide so much help to the designer that good design should inevitably result from it. 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 an d planning, which will we hope replace existing ideas and practices entirely. 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. The intent of this paper is to facilitate a deeper understanding of these criticisms and the relationships between them.

The relationships between these criticisms are then mapped diagrammatically thereby forming the basis for thematic groupings within each hierarchical tier. However, the relentless pursuit of the modernist aesthetic also produced examples of uncomfortable and inhospitable spaces.

Christopher Alexander was amongst the most vocal critics of these spaces and responded to them by devoting his career to developing three unique and closely related theories of architectural and urban design. A Pattern Language is significant for demystifying complex socio-spatial considerations through a simple building block format which makes this content accessible to non-professionals, and is one reason why this text is believed to be the most widely read architectural treatise ever published Lea ; Alexander ; Kohn ; Saunders b ; Hermann ; Mehaffy ; Silva and Paraizo A Pattern Language is also credited with inspiring the development of the object-oriented programming languages used to create the majority of current computer software in addition to partially inspiring the New Urbanist movement.

Nevertheless, the scholars who do engage with the theory have identified substantial flaws, many of which are difficult to untangle without a substantial loss of meaning Dovey Indeed, several of the criticisms cited are acknowledged, if not accepted, by Alexander, as part of various counterarguments he offers. Furthermore, despite the proselytising tone of A Pattern Language, its introductory discussion states that it was published as a work in progress and encourages readers to continue to refine the patterns contained therein and develop their own new patterns.

In undertaking this endeavour, 28 criticisms are identified and organised into three hierarchical levels corresponding to the i conceptual foundations of the theory, ii its development and documentation, and iii its implementation and outcomes. Criticisms are also organised thematically and diagrammatically to reveal how they relate to each other.

Alexander alleges that this disparity arises from the use of radically different design processes. When applied in practice, Alexander discovered that this process was too demanding for all but the largest design projects. Collectively these three works constitute one of the s and s most sustained criticisms of modernism. Here it is argued that the shared values and customs of traditional societies provide a guiding framework, or design language, that restrains the many small acts of individual construction and integrates them into a larger cohesive environment.

Alexander argues that this quality exists, to some extent, in every individual, and this allows us to recognise its presence in the environment and each other.

The theory states that places which exhibit this quality will awaken it in people, and people who have found the quality will embed it into the places they help to create.

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