A pattern language

Towns, Buildings, Construction

1171 pages

English language

Published Oct. 30, 1977 by Oxford University Press.


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4 stars (3 reviews)

Alexander and his co-authors present us with over two hundred (roughly 250) "patterns" that they believe must be present in order for an environment to be pleasing, comfortable, or in their words, "alive." The patterns start at the most general level -- the first pattern, "Independent Regions," describes the ideal political entity, while another of my favorite patterns, "Mosaic of Subcultures," described the proper distribution of different groups within a city. The patterns gradually become more specific -- you'll read arguments about how universities should relate to the community, the proper placement of parks, the role of cafes in a city's life. If you wonder about the best design for a home, the authors will describe everything from how roofs and walls should be built, down to how light should fall within the home, where your windows should be placed, and even the most pleasant variety of chairs in the …

2 editions


4 stars

This is a wonderful book to stimulate thinking. I don’t think it makes for good front-to-back reading material, but the pattern-based style works great for flipping through, and every once in a while I struck on one that immediately made sense to me and appealed. Some of the patterns feel dated (I really hope we will not need so many patterns around how to defend ourselves against cars in thirty years!), but more interesting were those bits were things felt missing – there’s no pattern for a community house except for large families, nothing to think about more temporary living situations, and no help in how to set up a space for a party. But the way of describing a pattern is so straightforward that each lacuna made me want to design my own, and even if the book had only produced that feeling, it would have been enough.

The …

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5 stars


  • Symbolism in architecture
  • Semiotics