-----In 2004 we bought a falling-down house and 30 acres. This blog documents our progress-----

Saturday, February 11, 2006

applying "pattern language"

Pattern Language is a seminal book in architecture that I first stumbled across referenced in one of my all-time favourite books "A Place of My Own" by Michael Pollan. It was written back in 1977. I decided, somewhat naively perhaps, to go back to the original source to see what I could learn for Amherst.

The book arrived about 18 months ago and, like the textbook that it is, was initially daunting. It has very small type and 1171 pages! I started thumbing through it but found myself overwhelmed by the sheer scale at which it began.

Pattern #1 for instance states "Where ever possible, work toward the evolution of interdependent regions in the world each with a population of between 2 and 10 million". Now, whether this is right or wrong is irrelevant for my purposes, this is far far beyond my scale of thinking or power of influence! It reminded me in fact of a wonderful geography project I had to do back in high school to "design a town". My town was lovely, radiating out from a central square, and I had great fun designing in lots of parks for my imaginary population straight out of the Brady Bunch. But the exercise was utterly meaningless. So I feared would be this book.

But last weekend I picked it up again. This time I let myself skip forward to the patterns on a scale that were relevant to building a house.

I now understand why it is a seminal book. Where else could you find a book that ranges from the extremes of planning on a regional economy level right down to how you should arrange your kitchen cupboards? (I kid you not, seriously, pattern #200 is all about having open shallow shelves so that you can place things one deep and they don't get hidden). It is much a psychology book as an architecture book, in terms of dissecting why some spaces 'feel right' and others don't.

In the next few posts, I will introduce you to my favourite patterns. By which I mean the patterns that either I instantly thought "yes, of course, that makes sense"... or I was converted by the arguments in the book. They are the patterns which most resonated with me and thus I believe are most relevant for Amherst.

No comments: