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Oct 23 / Maryvi Nguyen

Timeless Way of Building

   Our Pattern Languages

The people can shape buildings for themselves, and have done it for centuries, by using languages which I call pattern languages. A language gives each person who uses it, the power to create an infinite variety of new and unique buildings, just as his ordinary language gives him the power to create an infinite variety of sentences.


  • The proper answer to the question “how is a farmer able to make a new barn?” The answer in the fact that every barn is made in patterns.
  • A system of patterns which function like language
  • Taking all patterns which her knows and combining them in new ways
  • Rules of thumbs (combines/recombine)
  • We learn to see pattern as something “in the world” – a unitary pattern of activity and space which repeats itself over and over again, in any given place always appearing each time in a slightly different manifestation.
  • Pattern in our minds are images of the world. They are generated, they tell us what to do; they tell us how we shall, or may generate; and they tell us too, that under certain circumstances, we must create.

Mathematical Point of View (2 simple rules)

  1. A set of elements of symbol
  2. A set of rule for combing these symbols


  • Patterns
  • Each patterns itself are patterns of other smaller patterns
  • They arrange in respect to other patterns

Generative System

  • Example: generate sentence that are appropriate to any given situation

Pattern Language

  • System whch allows us to create an infinite variety of combinations of patterns


Limited Number of Arrangements

  • Tree growing upside down inside a railroad station may work but doesn’t make sense



  • Every work, large or small, humble or magnificent, modern or ancient, is made in the same way
  • Form of patterns and rules which comes from languages come from the man made world because we put them there and we pit them there by using language
  • Every person has a pattern language in his mind. One pattern language is the sum total of your knowledge all pattern language is slightly different, not exactly the same but can be shared
  • Evolving each mind as experience grow
  • Even when a person seems to “go back to the basic problem,” he is always combining patterns that are already in his mind
  • Only because a person has a pattern language in his mind, that he can be creative when he builds
  • Patterns language – experience of building doesn’t happen just in traditional society, fundamental
  • Fact about our human nature, fact of speech



Timeless Way of Building by Christopher Alexander overall is based of Christoper point of view when it comes to architect, and buildings and how that all ties to language. Just like building houses, barns, etc, putting together a font is similar. Everything is man made and once started from nothing. When someone builds a barn, Alexander explains a certain rules of thumb. The window, door, hallway, and room in each barn must be a certain size depending on the builder. Most likely, no one will start to build a circular barn. And when make a font style, there are rules of thumb. For example, each window built in a house may vary in size but not every door will be completely different in size just like letters, they tend to stay in one form, though there are exceptions.  Just like letters, one family style will revolve around a set of rules. A width of a door, the lengthiness of a hallway, or have step of a step is like the lengthiness of a letter and how wide a letter can be. There are set rules and they arrange in respect to other letters.




From a graphic design perspective, I chose three DVD posters. In class we discussed genres of posters and how they effect what movie genre/category these movies fall in. What my point of view will be is the similarities of DVDs layout. 



Regardless of what genre these movie are conveying, they all have distinct similarities. The overall layouts are exactly the same. Each DVD poster has the main poster on the right and information listed on the left. The middle bar tend to always list the name of the movie, the words DVD and the company that filmed these movies. If you notice, the front cover list the name of the movie 


slightly larger than the actor and actress name. On the left side, a description of the movie is always listed on the top, while the description of the movie is much smaller and more transparent is listed on the bottom. Each price scan is placed more towards the top on the poster towards the right. In the center of each poster lists bonus features, quotes, and teasers for the movie. The layout for a DVD poster tends to stay in the style even when I went through a box of over a hundred DVDs.









Through typography perspective, I noticed that all my books regardless of new, old, color, genre, etc, that they all list the title on the spine. The spine varies from thick to thin and how the name is placed on there defines how a space should be used. Wide, long, small, huge, uppercase, lowercase…