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Oct 22 / Brian

Alexander Timeless Way, Notes

  • Pattern language gives each person infinite varieties of new and unique buildings
  • Life cannot be made but only generated by a process
  • How is a farmer able to make a new barn lies in the fact that every barn is made of patterns
  • These patterns are expressed as rules of thumb, which any farmer can combine and re-combine to make an infinite variety of unique barns
  • We must see a pattern as something in the world
  • Pattern: activity and space which repeats itself over and over again in any given place always appearing each time in a slightly different manifestation
  • Patterns are created by us because we have other, similar patterns in our minds from which we imagine, conceive, create, build, and live these actual patterns in the world
  • Each pattern is a rule which describes what you have to do to generate the entity which it defines


The simplest kind of language is a system that contains two sets:

  • A set of elements, or symbols
  • A set of rules for combining these symbols


  • An ordinary language like English is a system which allows us to create an infinite variety of one-dimensional combinations of words, called sentences
  • A pattern language is a system which allows its users to create an infinite variety of those three dimensional combinations of patterns which we call buildings, gardens, towns


Natural Language

  • Words
  • Rules of grammar and meaning which give connections
  • Sentences


Pattern Language

  • Patterns
  • Patterns which specify connections between patterns
  • Buildings an places


  • Pattern language: a finite system of rules which a person can use to generate an infinite variety of different buildings
  • The use of language will allow the people of a village or a town to generate exactly that balance of uniformity and variety which brings a place to life
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