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Timeless Way – Alexander

Notes from the reading “The Timeless Way of Building” by Christopher Alexander,

From my understanding of the reading Alexander was trying to imply not that designers/artist copy one another when creating new work but that it is a mental language shared between us that allows us to create.  So simply everything you’ve witnessed as you move through life you unknowingly gain the knowledge of this “creativity pattern” which helps you create things, for example a home.  Everyone knows what characteristics a home has, a roof, walls, floors, ceilings, doors, windows.  We also know the order in which they are stacked and built.  Although not every home is exactly the same, we know subconsciously know its pattern.

Natural Language vs. Pattern Language.

-Natural language is the language shared between/amongst individuals while -Pattern language is the language shared between/amongst works of art (example buildings).  Pattern language is the knowledge of what already preexist, without having to go into research. Its the obvious coordination between things.

So in pattern language: each pattern or part of a building acts a letterform or word and allows each person/designer to form their own words or sentences. Forming new buildings on the basis of another.

“Every person has a pattern language in his mind” (Page 202)

The example used by Alexander was the barn.  If you decided to go out and created a barn their are already specific things you know that go into creating a barn. You know the base is square and the top is a pyramid.  These are apart of its pattern.  This already existing idea of what makes a barn a barn, how do you know a barn from a home ?  It all has to do with the underlying pattern behind the design.

Designs are informed by patterns, patterns come from our mind, patterns are from what we’ve subconsciously collected from the world.


From Notes
Posted by Lacey on October 16, 2013

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