Monday, November 28, 2005

More from the "Pattern Language"

Somebody who read about my Adventure With Lite-Form e-mailed to ask why I'd put that inverted bay, with those pesky 45-degree angles, in my house design.

It was because I crush on Christopher Alexander's "Pattern Language." See his website for much, much more. Here are the ideas which led me to this choice:


    Positive spaces are partly enclosed, at least to the extent that their areas seem bounded ... the "virtual" area which seems to exist is convex.

    We put forward the following hypothesis. People feel comfortable in spaces which are "positive" and use those spaces; people feel relatively uncomfortable in spaces which are "negative" and such spaces tend to remain unused.

    When a person looks for a place to sit down outdoors, he rarely chooses to sit exposed in the middle of an open space - he usually looks for a tree to put his back against; a hollow in the ground, a natural cleft which will partly enclose and shelter him.

  2. LONG THIN HOUSE (#109)

    In small buildings, don't cluster all the rooms together around each other; instead [for privacy and light] string out the rooms one after another, so that distance between each room is as great as it can be.


    When they have a choice, people will always gravitate to those rooms which have light on two sides, and leave the rooms which are lit only from one side unused and empty.

    In a room lit on only one side ... the part furthest from the window is uncomfortably dark ... the interior wall immediately next to the window is usually dark, creating discomfort and glare.

Alexander points out that, if you build a scalloped outside wall, spaces are created on the inside for windows, and on the outside, for pleasant sheltered spaces to sit.

So I built a brick patio in the scooped-out (south-facing) area. The 45-degree angles let extra light into the house. The narrow window on the 45-degree wall in my bedroom, for instance, at this time of year lets in the beautiful golden late-afternoon light.

I highly recommend Alexander's book if you ever have the opportunity to design a living space. Some of his ideas are a bit loony but some are so "right" they will make you gasp in instant recognition.

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At 11:13 AM, Anonymous WillR said...

I'm also a big fan of PL. Trying to get the Town Council to understand the public spaces part of PL vis-a-vis the new development downtown.

At 5:07 PM, Anonymous Tim Erickson said...

Love the idea!

Would you do the same on the second floor, where you could not make the place to sit?
Or if the scoop faced east or west, so a face of the bay was never lit?

At 5:18 PM, Blogger melinama said...

Wouldn't a balcony be great there? Alexander says, and I agree, that people just won't sit in a north-facing patio (or balcony) but I think an area that is lit part of the day would be used during that sunny time.


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