- Series: Center for Environmental Structure Series (Book 2)
- Hardcover: 1171 pages
- Publisher: Oxford University Press (1977)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0195019199
- ISBN-13: 978-0195019193
- Product Dimensions: 5.7 x 2 x 7.9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 2.5 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 210 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #13,001 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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A Pattern Language: Towns, Buildings, Construction (Center for Environmental Structure Series)
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The second of three books published by the Center for Environmental Structure to provide a "working alternative to our present ideas about architecture, building, and planning," A Pattern Language offers a practical language for building and planning based on natural considerations. The reader is given an overview of some 250 patterns that are the units of this language, each consisting of a design problem, discussion, illustration, and solution. By understanding recurrent design problems in our environment, readers can identify extant patterns in their own design projects and use these patterns to create a language of their own. Extraordinarily thorough, coherent, and accessible, this book has become a bible for homebuilders, contractors, and developers who care about creating healthy, high-level design.
"A wise old owl of a book, one to curl up with in an inglenook on a rainy day.... Alexander may be the closest thing home design has to a Zen master."--The New York Times
"A classic. A must read!"--T. Colbert, University of Houston
"The design student's bible for relativistic environmental design."--Melinda La Garce, Southern Illinois University
"Brilliant....Here's how to design or redesign any space you're living or working in--from metropolis to room. Consider what you want to happen in the space, and then page through this book. Its radically conservative observations will spark, enhance, organize your best ideas, and a wondrous home, workplace, town will result."--San Francisco Chronicle
"The most important book in architecture and planning for many decades, a landmark whose clarity and humanity give hope that our private and public spaces can yet be made gracefully habitable."--The Next Whole Earth Catalog
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down and come back later to pick up where you left off, because it is broken into many very short chapters,
each of which contain a key idea. It's hard to describe this book, because it is so unique in its approach
to telling the reader "how things ought to be" concerning everything from civil planning and city layout,
to floor-plans, to architectural design, to furnishing. The author is very opinionated and does not shy away
from boldly telling you what is wrong with the physical constructs of our urban, suburban, and rural areas,
and how all of that should be properly done in his imagined ideal world.
In some ways, this book is like reading the professional diary of your crazy uncle who is constantly ranting
about what's wrong with the world, and how he thinks it should be set right. However, after reading it for
a while, you get the impression that the author is not really crazy, so much as he is a brilliant eccentric
whose experience and understanding is based on an extremely broad appreciation of how human beings choose
to craft their surroundings, and how we get it right, and how we get it wrong, and why.
Be forewarned... you are not going to agree with everything the author says.
I don't agree, for example, with his outlandish claim that living in a home that is more than four stories
about the ground will eventually make you crazy, because I have loved living on the top floor of my
high-rise condo for the past ten years. I also don't agree with his idea that all kitchen cabinets should
be open shelves with no doors, because the doors just get in the way, hide what is contained therein,
and are essential useless. I must admit, however, that I love reading the author's insights on things
with which I disagree with him, and I have to admit that even on such issues... he's got good points!
Many times I find myself saying "Almost, thou persuadest me."
To be fair, I actually do agree with the author's views regarding the vast majority of his observations,
as they are all just good common-sense approaches, and I must admit they often leave me thinking
"Yes, that's such a beautifully simple truth... why don't we always build it that way, or do it that way?"
This book gives you the benefit of the sage wisdom of an author who is genuinely worth reading
and considering. Even though this book is decades-old, most of its observations are timeless.
It's so hard to classify the book. Is it a Western approach to Feng Shui ... without all the questionable
Eastern Spiritualism, and more of practical philosophy on how to best craft your environment?
Or is it better described as foundational reading for everyone from a City Planner, to an Architect,
to anyone building a house, to anyone one looking to make their home a more pleasant place?
However you choose to classify it... this book is a unique, delightful treatise on how things should
ideally be in order for human beings to be more comfortable, productive, and happy in their surroundings.
1. Swimming. He is intensely focused on swimming as a major factor in civic planning and personal recreation. It's a considerable contortion at multiple points.
2. Dancing, especially in the streets. Alexander was a great fan of the Peckham Clinic which focused on (guess what) swimming and dancing as exercise and recreation. It shows.
3. Many of his patterns make an uncomfortably dated misstep when they pertain to women--and another, subtler one when dealing with work concerns and issues of children while not mentioning women directly. Women working outside the home is not a gutiding concern or a base assumption for him; a base assumption IS that women prefer and want to care for children. It's a very important shaping concern for many other parts of life, so this blind spot, characteristic of its time and place and socioeconomic environment, is very significant.
4. Disabled people, other than mildly infirm and otherwise hale elderly people, do not exist. Another blind spot.
Bear these crotchets in mind as you consider these patterns, and how to find even better patterns for a wonderful world.