The scope of the book is incredible. It sets out, in plain terms, to empower people to design, build and shape their own surroundings. It does this by creating a “pattern language”, a kind of generative grammar with 253 patterns that can be used to make things. The patterns move from big town scale patterns (e.g. The Distribution of Towns, Magic of the City, Web of Shopping, Nine per Cent Parking), via medium building scale patterns (e.g. Wings of Light, Intimacy Gradient, Staircase as a Stage) to small  construction scale patterns (e.g. Structure follows Social Spaces, Low Sill, Filtered Light, Different Chairs).

Each pattern is described in a similar way: there is a picture showing an archetypal example of the pattern, then a paragraph describing the context of the pattern (in which larger patterns does this pattern fit), next in bold a headline giving the essence of the problem, then a research based exploration of the problem, next in bold the solution stated as an instruction, then a diagram as a visual way of describing the solution and finally a paragraph describing which smaller patterns can help this pattern. Each pattern also comes with a label signifying how sure the authors are that this truly is an universal pattern.

The breadth of topics in the book is baffling (it took the authors about seven years to research and write it). Let me just give you some random quotes to show you what I mean (doing the book a gross injustice by leaving out a lot of context).

Leave a Reply