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ArchitectureWeek - patterns of Home
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    Patterns of Home

    Introducing a series by Max Jacobson, Murray Silverstein, and Barbara Winslow

    ArchWeek Photo

    House by Fernau + Hartman Architects.
    Photo: © David Duncan Livingston


    Years ago, at the beginning of our professional careers, two of us were part of an effort to create a design language that was similar in many ways to what we are now calling "the patterns of home." In that work, A Pattern Language (1977), we and our colleagues at the Center for Environmental Structure in Berkeley defined over 200 design ideas, which we called patterns.

    In a general sense, patterns are a designer's rules of thumb, the intuitive principles, often unspoken, that guide design work. And just as our innate knowledge of grammatical rules allows us to speak fluently and create well-formed sentences, an architect's innate sense of patterns allows him or her to design fluently, to create well-formed buildings.

    In A Pattern Language, our emphasis was on patterns that grew directly out of the way people use and experience buildings, dealing with such issues as how to create balanced natural light in a room, how to create a graceful flow of circulation through rooms, and how to organize a building to make comfortable outdoor spaces around it. The book contained our deepest intuitions and understandings about what makes buildings work, what makes them good to be in.

    Years of practice and teaching have taught that, while many of the original patterns retain intuitive appeal — "light on two sides," "entrance transition," and "farmhouse kitchen" are a permanent part of our design language — many others have come to seem unwieldy or overstated or are simply irrelevant to the kinds of problems we have faced.

    ArchWeek Photo

    House by James W. Givens Design.
    Photo: © David Duncan Livingston

    ArchWeek Photo

    House by Thomas L. Bosworth, FAIA, Bosworth Studio.
    Photo: © David Duncan Livingston

    ArchWeek Photo

    Patterns of Home, from The Taunton Press.
    Photo: © David Duncan Livingston

    Click on thumbnail images to view full-size pictures.

    While it seems to us that the original notion — that good houses are made of deep, traditional patterns, grounded in human experience — is still valid, practice has made us realize that the really crucial patterns are far fewer in number than we had previously thought; and that this smaller group of patterns is more powerful than we had previously imagined.

    It should be clear that the set of ten patterns we have selected is somewhat arbitrary — both in number and inclusion. But we feel certain that, plus or minus, we have staked out the essential core of what is required to make a wonderful home. We want to emphasize that it is the way they work together that makes all the difference in a house design. The patterns are all parts of a larger whole.

    Over the next several months, ArchitectureWeek will feature these patterns in a regular series. The text and images are excerpted from Patterns of Home: The Ten Essentials of Enduring Design by Max Jacobson, Murray Silverstein, and Barbara Winslow, with permission of the publisher, The Taunton Press, Inc.



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