On June 26th, 2011, ‘A PATTERN LANGUAGE’…

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#40: Old People Everywhere, from 'A Pattern Language'

the iconic influential book by Christopher Alexander is standard issue to architecture students since it emerged out of the Berkeley in the 1970’s, which we were introduced to in our first year design studio, but I don’t recall ever actually reading it at the time (perhaps it seemed old fashioned, folksy, retrograde, and even conservative to my youthful architecty spirit besotted by flashy theory and cool shapes) but yesterday I stumbled upon it in the Academy library, immediately swept away into the staggering radical visionary breadth of it’s 253 patterns detailed in decending order from big to small over it’s 1171 pages of brilliant pragmatic idealism, seeming to be as appropriate, urgent, and relevant today as ever – perhaps more so – my neck getting sore from nodding vigorously in agreement with so many of the proposed patterns, like ripping up the pavement on local roads and creating 51 GREEN STREETS, encouraging a diversity of ages in our communities with 40 OLD PEOPLE EVERYWHERE, designing a realm for 84 TEENAGE SOCIETY within the city for those between childhood and adulthood to establish their independence, making formal education a part of everyone’s daily life with 43 UNIVERSITY AS A MARKETPLACE, making safe and accessible places for 57 CHILDREN IN THE CITY, limiting high-rise construction with 21 FOUR-STORY LIMIT, planting 170 FRUIT TREES and 177 VEGETABLE GARDENS where we live, designing a place at home for making 178 COMPOST, leaving places for drama anywhere with 133 STAIRCASE AS A STAGE, planning for a 5 LACE OF COUNTRY STREETS that leave large expanses of open countryside between them, prioritizing places for 63 DANCING IN THE STREET, consciously welcoming 74 ANIMALS into the city, letting kids create their own play spaces like 73 ADVENTURE PLAYGROUND, encouraging the 172 GARDEN GROWING WILD, letting plants invade the built environment with 247 PAVING WITH CRACKS BETWEEN THE STONES, getting rid of conventional space-wasting and isolating bedrooms in favor of 186 COMMUNAL SLEEPING, and my favorite – leaving comfortable public places for 94 SLEEPING IN PUBLIC, and here is the complete list of all 253, which in Alexander’s words “…allow anyone, and any group of people, to create beautiful, functional, meaningful places. At the core… is the idea that people should design for themselves their own houses, streets and communities. This idea… comes simply from the observation that most of the wonderful places of the world were not made by architects but by the people.”