Design

You can use this book to design a house for yourself with your family; you can use it to work with your neighbors to improve your town and neighborhood; you can use it to design an office, or a workshop, or a public building. And you can use it to guide you in the actual process of construction. After a ten-year silence, Christopher Alexander and his colleagues at the Center for Environmental Structure are now publishing a major statement in the form of three books which will, in their words, "lay the basis for an entirely new approach to architecture, building and planning, which will we hope replace existing ideas and practices entirely." The three books are The Timeless Way of Building, The Oregon Experiment, and this book, A Pattern Language. At the core of these books is the idea that people should design for themselves their own houses, streets, and communities. This idea may be radical (it implies a radical transformation of the architectural profession) but it comes simply from the observation that most of the wonderful places of the world were not made by architects but by the people. At the core of the books, too, is the point that in designing their environments people always rely on certain "languages," which, like the languages we speak, allow them to articulate and communicate an infinite variety of designs within a forma system which gives them coherence. This book provides a language of this kind. It will enable a person to make a design for almost any kind of building, or any part of the built environment. "Patterns," the units of this language, are answers to design problems (How high should a window sill be? How many stories should a building have? How much space in a neighborhood should be devoted to grass and trees?). More than 250 of the patterns in this pattern language are given: each consists of a problem statement, a discussion of the problem with an illustration, and a solution. As the authors say in their introduction, many of the patterns are archetypal, so deeply rooted in the nature of things that it seemly likely that they will be a part of human nature, and human action, as much in five hundred years as they are today.
Universal Principles of Design, Revised and Updated is a comprehensive, cross-disciplinary encyclopedia covering 125 laws, guidelines, human biases, and general considerations important to successful design. Richly illustrated and easy to navigate, it pairs clear explanations of every design concept with visual examples of the ideas applied in practice. From the 80/20 Rule to the Weakest Link, every major design concept is defined and illustrated.

Whether a marketing campaign or a museum exhibit, a video game or a complex control system, the design we see is the culmination of many concepts and practices brought together from a variety of disciplines. Because no one can be an expert on everything, designers have always had to scramble to find the information and know-how required to make a design work—until now.

Just a few of the principles that will broaden your design knowledge, promote brainstorming, and help you check the quality of your work:
  • Baby-Face Bias
  • Expectation Effect
  • Golden Ration
  • Ockham's Razor
  • Proximity
  • Scaling Fallacy

The book is organized alphabetically so that principles can be easily and quickly referenced by name. For those interested in addressing a specific problem of design, the principles havealso been indexed by questions commonly confronting designers (How can I help people learn from my design? How can I enhance the usability of a design? How can I make better design decisions? ...).

Each principle is presented in a two-page format. The first page contains a succinct definition, a full description of the principle, examples of its use, and guidelines for use. Side notes are included, and provide elaborations and references. The second page contains visual examples and related graphics to support a deeper understanding of the principle.

This landmark reference is the standard for designers, engineers, architects, and students who seek to broaden and improve their design expertise.

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