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A Pattern Language by Christopher Alexander

 
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Posts: 2232
Location: SW Missouri
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A Pattern Language by Christopher Alexander

I give this book 10 out of 10 acorns. Highly recommended.

I first read Christopher Alexander's "The Timeless Way of Building" and "A Pattern Language" in the early 1980's. It changed how I looked at the world. I started looking for the patterns that underlie the world of buildings, homes, and communities, since that is what he focuses on. Later I realized that the land, water, air, and agriculture patterns are just as important, if not more, and they interact with the architectural patterns.  At this point, to me, it’s all the same thing. The patterns that underlie our whole world are something we need to understand and make them work into our lives, not let ourselves get sucked into the bad patterns that make life more difficult and unpleasant.

When we were doing our basic designs for the house we are building, I read through  A Pattern Language again, and notated all the patterns we find useful, and mixed them with our patterns for our land, and added some of our own to make it all work together to work for what WE want. That, I believe, is how he meant for this book to be used. His patterns he identified are great, but they are not universally applicable. Example is his “sheltering roofs” it gives a cozy snug feeling to house, but I don’t want cozy and snug, I’d live in a glass dome if I could get away with it, I like light and air and feeling of expansive space.

It’s hard to review a book that let me see things that have become such a part of my mind that I can no longer untangle them from what the world looked like before. This books quite a bit like Bill Mollison’s Designer’s Manual for the patterns of the earth, in that once you have  learned to see the patterns, your mind is changed forever. As such, this is one of the best books I have ever read, and one of the ones I wish I could make everyone understand.

From a post I wrote about The Timeless way of Building:

There is SO much potential for neat, human friendly designs, and it's not common in this culture. I read his comments about what it would look like if it's allowed to continue like it was headed (it was written in the late 1970’s) and then I looked as I drove around, saw soul dead strip malls, suburbs not made for humans... And I cried, for what we COULD have, versus what we do.


Our homes are part of that too, we have miles of soulless homes, that all look like the neighbors, that all have the same things inside, that are designed like hotel rooms, assuming everyone will move on in 5 years and “you have to look at resale value, you know!” instead of having homes that we walk in and feel happy, that everything works the way that matters to us, not to the neighbors, or to someone who might buy it later, homes that are designed for living in, not for coming home after work, microwaving dinner and watching TV until bedtime. There is a place for that kind of house in our culture, but I dislike it that it has become the standard of how houses are designed, rather than have the standard be a happy healthy home, that feeds our bodies, minds and souls. A Pattern Language helped foster this discontent in me, and I will be eternally grateful to Christopher Alexander for that.
 
Pearl Sutton
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Location: SW Missouri
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The patterns for our house design, we did these FIRST before we started drawing walls. Things with numbers are from A Pattern Language, things that have a + are our own patterns. The qualities we each chose for ourselves are listed at the bottom, and the ones that work for us both. Looking at them makes sense of some of what we consider priority, and what our home patterns are based on.

+ Whole property is “our home”  Interior space is “our house”
Abundance for ALL.

+ Comfortable and engaging for ALL inhabitants: human, animal, plant
........127 – Intimacy gradient
........+ Open space and nests
........108 – Connected buildings
........129 – Common place at the heart
........+ Lack of toxins

+ Outside spaces designed as interior spaces
........127 – Intimacy gradient
........+ Open space and nests
........105 – South facing outdoors
........106 – Positive outdoor space
........108 – Connected buildings
........236 – Windows which open wide (modified pattern)
........119 – Arcades
................160 – Building edge
................167 – Six foot balcony
................234 – Lapped outside walls
........124 – Activity pockets
................252 – Pools of light
................229 – Duct place
................+ Expansion ports
........163 – Outdoor room
................175 – Greenhouse
................161 – Sunny place
................230 – Radiant heat
................+ Animal nests
........168 – Connection to the earth
................111 – Half hidden garden
................172 – Garden growing wild
................+ Animal play spaces
................173 – Garden wall
................161 – Sunny place
................199 – Sunny counter
................230 – Radiant heat
........241 – Seat spots
................171 – Tree places
................176 – Garden seat
................242 – Front door bench
................243 – Sitting wall
................+ Animal nests
........+ Places to walk
................+ Wide walkways
................+ Easy stairs
................120 – Paths and goals
................174 – Trellised walk
................169 – Terraced slope
................170 – Fruit trees
................+ Animal play spaces

+ Mind shift areas at doors
........127 – Intimacy gradient
........105 – South facing outdoors
........108 – Connected buildings
........163 – Outdoor room
................236 – Windows which open wide (modified pattern)
................119 – Arcades
................167 – Six foot balcony
................160 – Building edge
................234 – Lapped outside walls
................252 – Pools of light
........110 – Main entrance
........112 – Entrance transition
................242 – Front door bench
................243 – Sitting wall
................+ Mud room
................+ Shoe place
................233 – Floor surface
........+ Left hand doors

+ High sunlight/natural light
........105 – South facing outdoors
........+ North coolness
........163 – Outdoor room
................175 – Greenhouse
................174 – Trellised walk
........128 – Indoor sunlight
................236 – Windows which open wide (modified pattern)
................161 – Sunny place
................180 – Window place
................199 – Sunny counter
........182 – Eating atmosphere
........181 – The fire
........230 – Radiant heat
........194 – Interior windows
........+ Variable light levels
................238 – Filtered light
................252 – Pools of light
................+ Shutters

+ Open space and nests
........+ Wide walkways
........124 – Activity pockets
................+ Sliding doors
................198 – Closets between rooms
................+ Built in furniture and partitions
................+ Movable furniture and partitions
................240 – Half inch trim
................200 – Open shelves
........129 – Common place at the heart
................161 – Sunny place
................180 – Window place
................238 – Filtered light (tracery?)
................252 – Pools of light
................182 – Eating atmosphere
................181 – The fire
................230 – Radiant heat
................+ Animal nests

+ Ease of maintenance – plan for expansion – ease of modification

........108 – Connected buildings
........+ Expansion ports
........230 – Radiant heat
........229 – Duct place
................+ Four inch ledges
................+ Expansion ports
................+ Plumbing wall
................+ Redundant systems
................+ Repairable tech
........242 – Front door bench
................+ Mud room
................+ Shoe place
........+ Places to walk
................+ Wide walkways
................169 – Terraced slope
................170 – Fruit trees
................173 – Garden wall
................175 – Greenhouse
........198 – Closets between rooms
................+ Built in furniture and partitions
................+ Movable furniture and partitions
................200 – Open shelves
................240 – Half inch trim
................194 – Interior windows
........+ Sliding doors

+ Energy efficient – temperature controllable spaces in all conditions
........108 – Connected buildings
........234 – Lapped outside walls
........+ Expansion ports
........+ Redundant systems
........230 – Radiant heat
................181 – The fire
................105 – South facing outdoors
................175 – Greenhouse
........229 – Duct place-
................+ Expansion ports
................+ Double ducts
................+ Repairable tech
........+ Variable light levels
................236 – Windows which open wide (modified pattern)
................+ Shutters
........+ Pools of heat/cool
................+ Mud room
................+ Sliding doors
................+ North coolness
................233 – Floor surface

+ Work areas designed for our actual needs/use – Accessible with health/height realities – efficient and effective

........+ Tools within reach
........+ Lack of toxins
........108 – Connected buildings
........113 – Car connection
........169 – Terraced slope
........163 – Outdoor room
................175 – Greenhouse
........+ Places to walk
................+ Wide walkways
........233 – Floor surface
........241 – Seat spots
................+ Mud room
................242 – Front door bench
................243 – Sitting wall
........124 – Activity pockets
................198 – Closets between rooms
................+ Built in furniture
................+ Movable furniture
................+ Sliding doors
................200 – Open shelves
........129 – Common place at the heart
........182 – Eating atmosphere
........184 – Cooking layout
................+ Variable counter heights
................+ Four inch ledges
................199 – Sunny counter
................252 – Pools of light
........230 – Radiant heat
........229 – Duct place
................+ Four inch ledges
................+ Double ducts
................+ Expansion ports
................+ Repairable tech
................+ Outlets at different levels
........+ Left hand doors
........+ Easy stairs


Qualities we want in a house:
Pearl:........................Mom:........................Both:
Airy..........................Airy...........................Airy
Thought filled............Calm
Things in reach..........Things hidden
Cleanable..................Cleanable...................Cleanable
Natural light...............Natural light...............Natural light
Variable light..............Variable light..............Variable light
Variable temp.............Variable temp............Variable temp
Warm........................Cool
Small spaces..............Open spaces

*** Tools within reach*** A primary Pearl pattern!!





 
Pearl Sutton
gardener
Posts: 2232
Location: SW Missouri
604
books building cat chicken earthworks food preservation fungi goat homestead cooking ungarbage
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Another book that follows up on buildings that are alive and real is "How Buildings Learn, what happens after they're built" by Stewart Brand. I give this book 9 apples.

It discusses how a building grows and changes over time. It is mostly aimed at architects, trying to make them think past submitting their plans, but it's very educational for the rest of us too.

What I got out of it was thoughts of making sure that what I build will be able to change easily, to grow and adapt. We are designing this house for me and my mom, 2 adults. What if the next people who live here have 4 kids? I'm making sure I leave things so it is easy to partition off rooms, so it's easy to build an addition off the side, so the plumbing can be run to another bathroom easily. It's kind of like learning to look at a garden, and see it in 15 years, when the trees have grown, and are you still going to want them where they are? or do you want to plant them in a different spot now, so when they grow, they are where you want them to be. It's thinking ahead, and making sure anything that is easy to do during construction gets done, because a lot of things are difficult to retrofit.

It goes with A Pattern Language to me, not only because it involves construction, but because it involves real life, not just bare drawings on a blueprint, but what it takes to make a building live, learn, and grow along with us. Because they either do, and thrive, or they don't and they die, and get bulldozed. And I'd like to think of my home being around after I'm gone, pleasing others with the care I have put into the design.

 
Beauty is in the eye of the tiny ad.
Rocket Oven – is it Right for You? Here’s What You Need to Know
https://permies.com/t/99726/rocket-ovens/Introduction-rocket-ovens-build
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