A social interaction pattern language 1 of 2

by Jay Cross on February 8, 2010

Pattern Language? A concept invented by Christopher Alexander, award-winning, renegade architect despised by most other architects, but wildly popular among designers and software authors.

Alexander used to live in my neighborhood. I wrote up a little presentation on his Pepto-Bismol colored house. Neighbors complained his house was so ugly it lowered the value of each house nearby by $15,000.

When Uta and I moved into our current house 17 years ago, Alexander was completing the house across the street. A rag-tag group of students put together this concrete monstrosity.

Here’s the view from my front deck:

You can see a little bit of my rooftop in this picture from Alexander’s The Nature of Order.

Alexander’s The Nature of Order and his website tout my neighbor’s house as an example of a successful owner-designed home. The owners loath him. For example, with our first rainstorm, water blew right through the walls into their daughter’s bedroom.

During construction, Alexander had asked, “What sort of windows would you like?” The owners didn’t understand the economics of custom-shaped windows until it cost them $30,000 to replace them with windows that didn’t leak. The project went over budget; last time I visited, there were still bare wires in the kitchen where fixtures were supposed to go.

That said, I’ve read Alexander’s A Timeless Way of Being and A Pattern Language twice. They are classics of design.

Close of Part 1 of 2

Comments on this entry are closed.

Previous post:

Next post: