A Pattern Language: Towns, Buildings, Construction

Front Cover
Oxford University Press, 1977 - Architecture - 1171 pages
160 Reviews
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.

What people are saying - Write a review

User ratings

5 stars
4 stars
3 stars
2 stars
1 star

A good reference book that you can dip into and out of. - Goodreads
Not I! The writing was also a little dull sometimes. - Goodreads
The Not So Big House books are based on this research) - Goodreads
Scientific research does not work like that however. - Goodreads
More of a reference and a one-time-read. - Goodreads

Review: A Pattern Language: Towns, Buildings, Construction

User Review  - Will Szal - Goodreads

Background and Overview "A Pattern Language" is exactly as the title describes. The book is a language for describing and organizing patterns. It presents 253 patterns from large [on the scale of ... Read full review

Review: A Pattern Language: Towns, Buildings, Construction

User Review  - Tony Grosinger - Goodreads

Interesting, but extremely long. It also seemed like the whole book would never apply to everyone. Some people would like the parts about constructing houses, others would like parts about designing cities, etc, but no one would really be fully engaged by the whole book. Read full review

All 6 reviews »



Common terms and phrases

References to this book

Site Planning
Kevin Lynch
Limited preview - 1984
All Book Search results »

About the author (1977)

Christopher Alexander, winner of the first medal for research ever awarded by the American Institute of Architects, is an architect and builder who has built in many countries. He is also Professor of Architecture at the University of California, Berkeley, and Director of the Center for Environmental Structure.