Pattern Languages
The field of pattern languages was spawned from the seminal work A Pattern Language

A Pattern Language — TOWNS · BUILDINGS · CONSTRUCTION

This book of 253 patterns was compiled over a period of 8 years by a team of six people. The patterns are numbered and named. One or more assertions are made about each pattern and discussed. At the end of each discussion, related patterns are cross-referenced.

To quote from the summary of the language: A pattern language has the structure of a network. However, when we use the network of a language, we always use it as a sequence, going though the patterns, moving always from the larger patterns to the smaller, always from the ones which create structure to the ones which then embellish those structures, then to those that embellish the embellishments. The form for each pattern is as follows:

  • the pattern number and name
  • a picture of an archetypal example
  • an intro paragraph sets the context by explaining how the pattern helps complete certain larger patterns.
  • ⋇ ⋇ ⋇ (marks beginning of the problem)
  • the essence of the problem in one or two sentences
  • body of problem
  • the solution — the heart of the pattern, always stated in the form of an instruction.
  • diagram, showing the solution with labels on main components
  • the body of solution
  • ⋇ ⋇ ⋇ (main body is finished)
  • a paragraph that ties the pattern to all the smaller patterns.

Additionally, the book has three sections TOWNS, BUILDINGS, and CONSTRUCTION, each with its own instructions for using the language in that section.

To give you an idea of the range, here are only the names of ten of my favorite patterns: INDEPENDENT REGIONS, THE DISTRIBUTION OF TOWNS, IDENTIFIABLE NEIGHBORHOODS, INDIVIDUALLY OWNED SHOPS, STREET CAFE, CORNER GROCERY, BEER HALL, TRAVELER'S INN, SUNNY COUNTER and STAIR SEATS.

Here are are excerpts from three patterns. A single asterisk denotes that the authors have made some progress defining the pattern. No asterisk means that the pattern is not a true 'invariant'.

154 TEENAGER's COTTAGE*
Paraphrased: to aid in the transition out of the family house, the teenage should have his/her own place with a (separate entrance?) in a more removed location but with connection to the house, such as off of the kitchen, or via a breezeway or other walkway. (Real quotes here soon 8/2015)

203 CHILD CAVES
Paraphrased: A hiding place, such as under a stairway. (Quotes here soon 8/2015)

136 THE COUPLE'S REALM*
Problem: The presence of children in a family often destroys the closeness and special privacy which a man and (wife!) need together.
Solution: Make a special part of the house distinct from the common areas and all the children's rooms, where the man and woman of the house can be together in private. Give this place a quick path to the children's rooms, but, at all costs, make it a distinctly separate realm.

Each pattern has a page or more of discussion following assertions made about particular patterns. Consider the assertion about IDENTIFIABLE NEIGHBORHOODS, following from an observation about implementing the pattern of identifiable neighborhoods in the light of an request by the City of San Francico for citizen input on the location of all future major arteries within the city:

Help people to define the neighborhoods they live in, not more than 300 yards across, with no more than 400 or 500 inhabitants. In existing cities, encourage local groups to organize themselves to form such neighborhoods. Give the neighborhoods some degree of autonomy as far as taxes and land controls are concerned. Keep major roads outside these neighborhoods.

And so on, ...

Alexander has a web site Patterns.


My Own Work

I have been working on a New World Model since 1977. One of my next steps is to develop a pattern language to describe it systematically. I consider all of the patterns in Pattern Language applicable.

In 2009, I started a pattern language for computer network infrastructures, but it is only in pencil on paper.

Currently (2015) working on a Pattern Language for Cycle Oregon sites.

Other Pattern Languages

Software Programming Patterns.

The Portland Pattern Repository, (PPR), Ward Cunningham.

Wikipedia Page on the Portland Pattern Repository.

Wiki Wiki Web

Some applications:

Links


Compiled by John Miller, Portland, Oregon, 3/2010, edited 8/2015.

Christopher Alexander | Interesting People and Ideas | John Miller's Home Page