A Pattern Language by Christopher Alexander: Review and Notes

A fantastic Guidebook to design thinking which if you use it as an aide rather than a Bible will educate and enrich your designs. Would love to see an updated New Edition.


A Pattern Language: Towns, Buildings, Construction by Christopher Alexander, Sara Ishikawa, Murray Silverstein, Max Jacobson, Ingrid Fiksdahl-King, Shlomo Angel

A Pattern Language came out in 1977 authored by Christopher Alexander with some of his students Sara Ishikawa, Murray Silverstein, Max Jacobson, Ingrid Fiksdahl-King, Shlomo Angel.

At the time I believe Christopher Alexander was teaching Architecture at Berkley and the first group of books he wrote sprung from his teaching, research and designing there. It is one of a series of Books by Alexander but A Pattern Language is his most widely read work.

Alexanders books principally A Timeless Way of Building, A Pattern Language and The Nature of Order have inspired a following not just in Architecture but in other fields also principally Computer Science where his work is more influential than in Architecture.

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Links of Note (week 45/2020)

Every week I highlight the most interesting items from my media diet.

Photo and Plan of building no.30 in Hashima Island (Image from Japanpropertycentral)

Hashima /Gunkanjima Island in Japan was the most densley populated place on the planet until it was abandoned. Building No.30 on the island was Japans oldest reinforced-concrete apartment building (1916). Now partially collapsed, a good example of how Japan treats many of its old buildings. (via Irène DB)


  • The Swedish Housing Experiment designed to Cure Loneliness Sällbo, is a radical experiment in multigenerational living in Helsingborg, Sweden. The Architecture is very unremarkable it’s the social organisation, the way this group have decided to live which is interesting.
  • Finland is a Capitalist Paradise Behind a NYT paywall but if you have access well worth a read. A Wife from Finland and her husband from the US reflect on living in both countries.


Journalism is printing what someone else does not want printed. Everything else is public relations

-George Orwell

Links of Note (week 44/2020)

Every week I highlight the most interesting items from my media diet.

You can still see the divide between West and East Berlin from space. The Photo (taken by ESA astronaut Andre Kuipers) shows the Berlin from the International Space Station. The street lights in former East Berlin are more orange, in the west they are a colder yellow.


  • Kiruna the town that moved a Swedish mining town that had to be moved or it would have been swallowed up by the the iron ore mine it sat too close to.
  • Daisugi -The Japanese Technique of Creating a Tree Platform for Other Trees

Sometime in 15th century Japan, a horticulture technique called daisugi was developed in Kyoto….The technique was developed…as a means of solving a seedling shortage and was used to create a sustainable harvest of timber from a single tree. Done right, the technique can prevent deforestation and result in perfectly round and straight timber known as taruki, which are used in the roofs of Japanese teahouses. via

  • Work From Home and how it may effect apartment block design. So while I would agree with Norman Foster for the most part there is an interesting kind of in-between place for a cohort of new work from homers that might mean the designing of more varied and better co-work spaces not based on office but on location.


  • Designing Temporary Urbanism from The Life-Sized City youtube channel. A lovely slice of inspired Urbanism from a channel worthy of your time.


What is the cost of lies? It’s not that we’ll mistake them for the truth. The real danger is that if we hear enough lies, then we no longer recognize the truth at all.

Valery Legasov

Links of Note (Week 43/2020)

Every week I highlight the most interesting items from my media diet.

project-o (photo by Aleksi Hautamäki and Milla Selkimäki)
  • What Neuroscience Says About Modern Architecture Approach Quite possibly the most stupid article I have read for some time. Modernism swept across the world partly because it articulated an architectural language that followed the industrialisation of the building industry (it was in some ways inevitable). Overlooking this for two Architects Brains malfunctioned as an explanation is beyond dumb.
  • Designing and building a Cabin in Finland (via). The Instagram feed has great photos of the Cabin being lived in. Project-o embodies the kesämokki life the Finnish dream of a simpler living either on an island in the Baltic or beside a lake in the forest.
  • The Chudobín Scots Pine is European Tree of The Year 2020 Watch the video of why it won. The other finalists all have their own videos, some beautiful trees to enjoy.


  • Fungus Amungus A fascinating podcast that explains why mammals might have triumphed in the race to become the dominant animal type after the dinosaurs disappeared and why our edge might be slipping now.

The difficulty lies not so much in developing new ideas as escaping from the old ones

John Maynard Keynes (via)
Declad Articles
  • Declad posts this last week A review and notes on the iconic Book Experiencing Architecture by Steen Eiler Rasmussen.

Experiencing Architecture by Steen Eiler Rasmussen Review and Book Notes

A classic architectural theory book, easy to read with some unique insights but with a couple of large flaws.


Experiencing Architecture by Steen Eiler Rasmussen was a standard text in architectural schools and also for me when I began my studies more years ago than I care to remember.

It was on my reading list as a student and it was one of the first books from the course that made an impact on me. So I was interested to come back to this book after many years and reread it.

Below you will find an introduction, summary and review with a set of notes by chapter for those that want to get into the weeds with detail!

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The Haiku Houses of Japan

An overview of Japanese House Design and why they are like solid Haiku Poems.

As a little follow up to some reading and thinking around the books Lost in Japan and In Praise of Shadows I think its worth looking at an aspect of Japanese architecture I love and I think could be understood better through the lens of the above books and a little analogy which might bring some different insights.

Ghost House by Datar Architecture (Photograph by Takeshi Yamagishi)

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Lost Japan by Alex Kerr

LostJapan: Last Glimpse of Beautiful Japan Paperback by Alex Kerr


Lost Japan is a headfirst dive into Japan and its culture. Written by an American whose heart was captured by Japan from an early age and has spent his life getting to know it. So much so that the articles he assembled this book from were originally written in Japanese and translated from the Japanese not by Kerr but by another writer (Bodhi Fishman).

I think this is an important thing to notice about the book, that this is a book about Japan meant for the Japanese themselves. Its also semi-autobiographical telling the authors life through his discovery of Japan.

I believe Lost Japan has barely ever been out of print in English since it was published. It’s insightful, opinionated and hard to put down. Moreover if you read and liked In Praise of Shadows (Chapter two nods at the book), you will find a collection of articles in the same vein but perhaps more accessible and which brings our view of Japan a little more up to date to the beginning of the 2000’s.

So I recommend this book wholeheartedly see below for a few notes and some of the key ideas running through this book.

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I love a good architectural zine and Cosmoform from Phibsboro press is the latest I have. It is a short essay about the building Met Éireann by Liam McCormick in Dublin.

I found out about it by listening to the podcast What do Builidngs Do All Day? Episode 6 Cosmoform an Architectural Podcast by Emmett Scanlon in which he was talking to the creators of the Zine Cormac Murray and Eamonn Hall.

The Building

Met Éireann (photograph by William Murphy)

The Building is Irelands’ Met Office HQ. Finished in 1979 it brought together the different Meteorological departments under one roof for the first time. The most striking thing about it is that it’s a truncated pyramid. Like a modern ziggurat it sits along a leafy brick Victorian suburb in Dublin.

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100+ Inspirational Design and Architecture Quotes

I have made a list of some of my favourite Architecture and Design Quotes. Some of these are all time classics and canonical, and some are much less well known. I have tried to organize them so the list has its own flow for example one of the most famous Architecture quotes ever is ‘Less is more’ by Mies Van Der Rohe.

I have added a few quotes below that which are replies to it like Robert Venturi’s ‘Less is a bore’ which is a direct repudiation of Mies’s quote and an example of his and Denise Scott Brown’s writing which as much as their buildings made them famous. It appears if you look hard enough even Ed Sheeran has an opinion about Architecture too!

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The WeeGee building by Aarno Ruusuvuori

A factory from the sixties, a constructivist classic converted with care in 2006 into and art and museum center.

WeeGee Art Gallery after restoration (Photo: Lewis Martin)


  • Completed: 1st stage 1964, second stage 1966, third phase 1974
    as WeeGee art Center in 2006
  • Address: Ahertajantie 5, 02100 Espoo, Finland
  • Size: 23,000 sqm
  • Architect: Aarno Ruusuvuori

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