Institute for Planetary Renewal
Patterns for Design
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I. Community Level Patterns
1. Cooperative Countryside (7)
"I conceive that land belongs for use to a vast family of which many are dead, few are living, and countless members are still unborn." --a Nigerian tribesman
When people feel that land is "theirs" and that they may "use it as they please" they often use it to exploit their fellowman and deprive others from its use. Communities and neighborhoods rarely have a say in how tracts of land are used. Developers then do as they please because they have the money and political influence. Only when an area becomes unlivable do people realize their loss and regret their impotency.
Therefore: Allow private ownership only of a small lot of land on which sits the house of the owner who lives there. Allow no absentee landlords. All other land is owned cooperatively by the residents of the area who determine its use by consensus. The community sees that the land is made best use of as a farm, garden, park, etc. and restricts development to insure that the area remains livable for generations to come. The public is free to visit, hike, picnic, explore, and boat, so long as they do not bring harm to the land, crops, or animals there.
2. Mosaic of Cultural Diversity and Land Use (8)
The homogeneous and undifferentiated character of modern cities kills all variety of life styles and arrests the growth of individual character.
Therefore: Within urban areas do everything possible to enrich the cultural variety by breaking the urban area into a vast mosaic of small and different neighborhoods, each with its own spatial territory, and each with the power to create its own distinct life style. Make sure that the neighborhoods are small enough, so that each person has access to the full variety of life styles in the neighborhoods near his own.
3. Work Near the Family (9)
The artificial separation of houses and work creates intolerable rifts in people's inner lives.
Therefore: Use zoning laws, neighborhood planning, tax incentives, and any other means available to scatter workplaces throughout the city. Prohibit large concentrations of work without family life around them. Prohibit large concentrations of family life without workplaces around them. Ideally, the worker should be able to work from the home or at least nearby, so that family life doesn't suffer and children can see how work is connected with the life of the family and society.
4. Soft Transportation and Ring Roads (11)
Cars give people wonderful freedom and increase their opportunities. But they also destroy the environment, to an extent so drastic that they kill all social life.
Therefore: Break the urban area down into local transport areas, each one between 1 and 2 miles across, surrounded by a ring road. Within the local transport area, build minor local roads and paths for internal movements on foot, by bike, on horseback, and in local vehicles (perhaps electric). Build major roads which make it easy for cars and trucks to get to and from the ring roads, but place them to make internal local trips slow and inconvenient. Shield all high speed roads from communities with earth berms, industrial parks, or natural boundaries.
5. Community of 7000 (12)
Individuals have no effective voice in any community of more than 5000-10,000 persons.
Therefore: Decentralize city governments in a way that gives local control to communities of 5000-10,000 persons. As nearly as possible, use natural geographic and historical boundaries to mark these communities. Give each community the power to initiate, decide, and execute the affairs that concern it closely: land use, housing, taxes, maintenance, streets, parks, police, schooling, welfare, neighborhood services.
6. Cozy Neighborhoods with Soft Natural Boundaries (13)
A mosaic of neighborhoods requires that many people live in their own way next door to one another. But neighborhoods have their own distinct character. They can only coexist and maintain their integrity if they are physically separated by physical boundaries.
Therefore: Separate neighborhoods with a swath of land at least 200 feet wide. Let this boundary be natural--wilderness, farmland, water, or parks. Along the boundaries between neighborhoods build meeting places, shared facilities which connect the neighborhoods. Let each neighborhood be no larger than 300 yards across with no more than 500 inhabitants. Give the neighborhoods some degree of autonomy as far as taxes and land controls are concerned. Keep major roads outside these neighborhoods.
7. Connections to the World--Transport, Information, Communications (16)
The systems of transportation, information access, and communications can only work if they are integrated properly.
Therefore give local communities control over these systems so that they, rather than special interests, determine how they are implemented. See that each neighborhood has full benefit of these systems.
8. Network of Learning (18)
A society which divorces learning from the workings of society and which emphasizes regimented forms of teaching rather than nurturing a love for learning does a great damage both to students and society.
Therefore: Instead of the lock-step of compulsory schooling in a fixed place, work in piecemeal ways to decentralize the process of learning and enrich it through contact with many places and people all over the city: workshops, teachers at home or walking through the city, professionals willing to take on the young as helpers, older children teaching younger children, museums, youth groups traveling, scholarly seminars, industrial workshops, old people, and so on. Conceive of all these situations as forming the backbone of the learning process; survey all these situations, describe them, and publish them as the city's "curriculum"; then let the students, children, their families and neighborhoods weave together for themselves the situations that comprise their "school" paying as they go with standard vouchers, raised by community tax. Build new educational facilities in a way which extends and enriches this network.
9. Shopping Where you Live (19)
Shops are rarely placed in those positions which best serve the people's needs, and also guarantee success and permanence.
Therefore: When you locate any individual shop, follow a three step procedure:
1. Identify all other shops which offer the service you are interested in; locate them on the map.
2. Identify and map the location of potential consumers. Wherever possible, indicate the density or total number of potential consumers in any given area.
3. Look for the biggest gap in the existing web of shops in those areas where there are potential consumers.
4. Within the gap in the web of similar shops, locate your shop next to the largest cluster of other kinds of shops.
10. Four Story Limit (21)
There is abundant evidence to show that high buildings make people crazy.
Therefore: In any urban area, no matter how dense, keep the majority of buildings four stories high or less. It is possible that certain buildings should exceed this limit, but they should never be buildings for human habitation.
11. Nine Percent Parking / Distributed Parking (22)
When the area devoted to parking is too great, it destroys the land. (Over 60% of downtown Los Angles is devoted to the automobile).
Therefore: Do not allow more than 9% of the land in any given area to be used for parking. In order to prevent the "bunching" of parking in huge neglected areas, it is necessary for a town or a community to subdivide its land into zones no larger than 10 acres and apply the 9% (or less) rule to each zone in order to distribute the parking.
12. Sacred Sites (24)
People cannot maintain their spiritual roots and the their connections to the past if the physical world they live in does not also sustain these roots.
Therefore: Whether the sacred sites are large or small, whether they are at the center of the town, in neighborhoods, or in the deepest countryside, establish ordinances which will protect them absolutely--so that our roots in the visible surroundings cannot be violated.
13. Public Waterscapes (25)
People have a fundamental yearning for great bodies of water. But the very movement of human settlements toward the water can destroy the water.
Therefore: When natural bodies of water occur near human settlements, treat them with great respect. Always preserve a belt of common land, immediately beside the water. Allow dense settlements to come right down to the water only at infrequent intervals along the water's edge.
14. Balance of Yin and Yang
Modern society is dominated by the masculine principle. The balance of masculine and feminine principles needs to be restored. This cannot be done by making the feminine more masculine or the masculine more feminine. The purity of the energies in those areas of society where each type of energy is needed must be encouraged.
Therefore: Make certain that each piece of the environment--each building, open space, neighborhood, and work community--is made with a balance of both yin and yang. Keep this in mind for every project at every scale. Increase the feminine principle where it is being neglected.
15. Neighborhood Nucleus (28)
The random character of most communities and neighborhoods destroys their identity and integrity. It creates chaos in the patterns of land use.
Therefore: Encourage growth and accumulation of higher density to form a clear configuration of peaks and valleys according to the following rules.
1. Consider the town as a collection of communities of 7000 with neighborhoods of about 500 each. The communities will be between 1/4 mile across and 2 miles across, according to their overall density.
2. Mark that point on the boundary of each community which is closest to the nearest major urban center. This point will be the peak of the density, and the nucleus of the community.
3. The greatest densities are therefore on one side of the rim of each community gravitating toward the town nucleus.
4. The greatest densities are nearer the town nucleus. These patterns are suitable for neighborhoods also.
16. Density Rings (29)
People want to be close to shops and services for excitement and convenience. Yet they want to be away from services for quiet and green. The exact balance of these two desires varies from person to person, but in the aggregate it is the balance of these two desires which determines the gradient of housing densities in a neighborhood.
Therefore: Once the nucleus of a community is clearly placed, define the rings of decreasing local housing density around this nucleus. Choose densities according to a formula which creates the balance for each family. (See pattern 29 in Pattern Language) In general, the innermost ring should be 2-3 times the density of the middle ring, which should be about 2 times the density of the outermost ring.
17. Activity Nodes (30)
Community facilities scattered individually throughout the city do nothing for the life of the city.
Therefore: Create nodes of activity throughout the community, spread about 300 yards apart. First identify those existing spots in the community where activity seems to concentrate. Then modify the layout of the paths in the community to bring as many of them through these spots as possible. This makes each spot function as a "node" in the path network. Then, at the center of each node, make a small public square and surround it with a combination of community facilities and shops which are mutually supportive.
18. Public Places...Day and Night (31)
Each neighborhood needs a center for its public life: a place where you can go to see people, and to be seen. Both daytime activities and nighttime activities need to be considered.
Therefore: Encourage the gradual formation of a promenade at the heart of every community, linking the main activity nodes and placed centrally so that each point in the community is with 10 minutes' walk of it. Put main points of daytime attraction at the two ends, to keep a constant movement up and down. Cluster the nighttime activity centers together.
II. Cluster Level
19. Lifestyle Mix (35)
No one stage in the life cycle is self-sufficient.
Therefore: Encourage growth toward a mix of lifestyles--singles, couples, families, and older folks so that within each neighborhood a variety of lifestyles are represented.
20. House Clusters (37)
People will not feel comfortable in their houses unless a group of houses form a cluster, with the surrounding land jointly owned by all the householders.
Therefore: Arrange houses to form very rough but identifiable clusters of 8 to 12 households around some common land and paths. Arrange the clusters so that anyone can walk through them, without feeling like a trespasser.
21. Connected Housing (Densities > 15/acre)
At densities of 15 to 30 houses per acre, connected houses are essential.
Therefore: To save road, utility, and other development costs, place connected houses along pedestrian paths (not roads) that run at right angles to local roads and parking.
22. Housing Hill (Densities > 30/acre)
Every town has places in it which are so central and desirable that at least 30 to 50 households per acre will be living there. But the apartment houses which reach this density are almost always impersonal.
Therefore: To build more than 30 dwellings per net acre, or to build housing three or fours stories high, build a hill of houses. Build them to form stepped terraces, sloping toward the south, served by a great central open stair which also faces south and leads toward a common garden.
III. Workplace and Transportation
23. Living Workplaces (41)
If you spend eight hours of your day at work, and eight hours at home, there is no reason why your workplace should be any less of a living community than your home.
Therefore: Build or encourage the formation of work communities, each one a collection of smaller clusters of workplaces which have their own courtyards, gathered round a larger common square or common courtyard which contains shops and lunch places. The total work community should have no more than 10 or 20 workplaces in it.
24. Public Voice / Public Decisions (44)
Local government of communities and local control by the inhabitants will only happen if each community has its own physical town hall which forms the nucleus of its political activity.
Therefore: To make the political control of local functions real, establish a small town hall for each community of 6000 and also for each neighborhood. Locate it near the busiest intersection in the community. Give the building three parts: an arena for public discussion, public services around the arena, and spaces for ad hoc community projects to work.
25. Shramadhana--Working Together (45)
The best community is one which is created by the people, for the people. Experts from afar and professional contractors always put their own interests first, and rarely have the time or sensitivity to get to know the people, the neighborhood, and the community's real needs.
Therefore: Whenever possible use local resources rather than hired help. Make a list of local resource people and their skills. Invite these people to share their knowledge for the creation of community projects. Make all community projects really community projects by building them with community resources. Even unskilled people working together can accomplish amazing things. (See page 316 of the Next Whole Earth Catalog).
26. Shopping Diversity (46)
It is natural and convenient to want a market where all the different foods and household goods you need can be bought under a single roof. But when the market has a single management, like a supermarket, the foods are bland, and there is no joy in going there.
Therefore: Instead of modern supermarkets, establish frequent market places, each one made up of many smaller shops which are autonomous and specialized (cheese, grain, fruit, etc.). Build the structure of the market as a minimum, which provides no more than a roof, columns which define aisles, and basic services. Within this structure allow the different shops to create their own environment, according to their individual tastes and needs.
27. Looped Local Roads with T Junctions (49)
Nobody wants fast traffic going by their homes.
Therefore: Lay out local roads so that they form loops. A loop is defined as any stretch of road which makes it impossible for cars that don't have destinations on it to use it as a shortcut. Do not allow any one loop to serve more than 50 cars, and keep the road really narrow, 17 to 20 feet is quite enough.
28. Green Streets (51)
There is too much hot hard asphalt in the world. A local road which only gives access to buildings, needs a few stones for the wheels of the cars; nothing more. Most of it can still be green.
Therefore: On local roads, closed to through traffic, plant grass all over the road and set occasional paving stones into the grass to form a surface for the wheels of those cars that need access to the street. Make no distinction between street and sidewalk. Where houses open off the street, put in more paving stones or gravel to let cars turn onto their own land.
29. Network of Paths and Autos (52)
Cars are dangerous to pedestrians, yet activities occur just where cars and pedestrians meet.
Therefore: Except where traffic densities are very high or very low, lay out pedestrian paths at right angles to roads, not along them, so that the paths gradually begin to form a second network, distinct from the road system, and orthogonal to it. This can be done quite gradually, even if you put in one path at a time, but always put them in the middle of the "block" so that they run across the roads.
30. Village and Neighborhood Gateways (53)
Any part of a town, large or small, which is to be identified by its inhabitants as a precinct of some kind, will be reinforced, helped in its distinctness, marked, and made vivid, if the paths which enter it are marked by gateways where they cross the boundary.
Therefore: Mark every boundary in the city which has important human meaning--the boundary of a building cluster, a neighborhood, a precinct, by great gateways where the major entering paths cross the boundary.
31. Road Crossings (54)
Where paths cross roads, the cars have power to frighten and subdue the people walking, even when the people walking have the legal right-of-way.
Therefore: At any point where a pedestrian path crosses a road that has enough traffic to create more than a two second delay to people crossing, make a "knuckle" at the crossing: narrow the road to the width of the through lanes only; continue the pedestrian path through the crossing about a foot above the roadway; put in islands between lanes; slope the road up toward the crossing (1/6 maximum); mark the path with a canopy or shelter to make it visible.
32. Soft Transportation System (56)
Where fast moving cars and pedestrians meet in cities the cars overwhelm the pedestrians. The car is king, and the people are made to feel small.
Therefore: Where people and cars must be together, make the pedestrian path 18 inches above the roadway, with a low wall or railing along the edge. Make the walk as wide as possible on one side of the roadway. Wherever possible restrict the use of cars and substitute a softer transportation system such as bikes, motor bikes, and electric vehicles. Build a system of paths designated as bike paths, with the following properties: The bike paths are marked clearly with a special, easily recognizable surface. As far as possible they run along local roads or major pedestrian paths. Where a bike path runs along a local road, its surface may be level with the road--if possible on the sunny side. Where a bike path runs along a pedestrian path, keep it separate from the path and a few inches below it. Bring the system of bike paths to within 100 feet of every building, and give every building a bike rack near its main entrance.
IV. Community Life
33. Festivals (58)
Community cohesiveness depends on shared experiences. Oftentimes more than ordinary events are necessary to create a delight in life.
Therefore: At frequent intervals, set aside a place and time for a festival or carnival. Make light of it. Have mad side shows, humor, plays, competitions, dancing, music, clowns, talent shows, booths, street theater, etc. Encourage people to let down their rigidity and smile a lot.
34. Quiet Places (59)
Anyone who has to work in noise, in offices with people all around, needs to be able to pause and refresh himself with quiet in a more natural situation.
Therefore: Give the buildings in the busy parts of town a quiet "back" behind them and away from the noise. Build a walk along this quiet back, far enough from the building so that it gets full sunlight, but protected from noise by walls, distance, and buildings. Make certain that the path is not a natural shortcut for busy foot traffic. Connect it with other walks, to form a long ribbon of quiet alleyways which converge on local pools, streams, and local greens.
35. Green Spaces (60)
People need green open places to go to. When they are close by, they use them. But if the greens are more than three minutes walk away, the distance overwhelms the need.
Therefore: Build one open public green within three minutes' walk, about 750 feet, of every house and workplace. This means that the greens need to be uniformly scattered at 1500 foot intervals, throughout the city. Make the greens at least 150 feet across, and at least 60,000 square feet in area.
36. Small Public Squares (61)
A town needs public squares; they are the largest, most public rooms that the town has. But when they are too large, they look and feel deserted.
Therefore: Make a public square much smaller than you would at first imagine; usually no more than 45 to 60 feet across, never more than 70 feet across. This applies only to its width in the short direction. In the long direction it can certainly be longer.
37. High Places / Lookout (62)
The instinct to climb up to some high place, from which you can look down and survey your world seems to be a fundamental human instinct.
Therefore: Build occasional high places as landmarks throughout the city. They can be a natural part of the topography, or towers, or part of the roofs of the highest local building. In any case, they should include a physical climb.
38. Music Under the Stars (63)
Why is it that people don't dance in the streets today? Where is the outdoor music?
It is always charming to have musical events outdoors.
Therefore: Along promenades, in squares and evening centers, make a slightly raised platform to form a bandstand, where street musicians and local groups can play. Cover it, and perhaps build in at ground level tiny stalls for refreshment. Surround the bandstand with paved surface for dancing--no admission charge. For larger musical events, an amphitheater could be built to serve 2 or 3 neighborhoods.
39. Pools and Streams (64)
Our bodies are largely water and water plays a fundamental role in our psychology. We need constant access to water all around us. Unless we develop a reverence for water in its many moods we will not create water places in our cities. In modern cities, water places are out of reach.
Therefore: Preserve natural pools and streams and allow them to run through the city. Make paths for people to walk along them and footbridges to cross them. Let the streams form natural barriers in the city, with traffic crossing them only infrequently on bridges. Whenever possible, collect rainwater in open channels and allow it to flow above ground, along pedestrian paths and in front of houses. In places without natural running water, create fountains in the streets.
40. Place for Birthing / Healing Centers (65)
It seems unlikely that any place which treats childbirth as a sickness could possibly be a healthy part of a healthy society. Large hospitals also tend to have a dehumanizing effect on people.
Therefore: Build local birth places where women can go to have their children: places that are specially tailored to childbirth as a natural, eventful moment, where the entire family comes for prenatal care and education; where fathers and midwives help during the hours of labor and birth. Build local healing and educational centers to administer to the health needs of a neighborhood. Concentrate of preventative measures.
41. Holy Places (66)
Every society must have its holy places where the events significant to life take place. The rites which accompany birth, initiation, transition to adulthood, marriage, and death take place there. They serve as spiritual centers for education and enlightenment.
Therefore: In each community and neighborhood, identify some sacred site as consecrated ground and form a series of progressively more private domains the last of which is the innermost holiest domain.
V. Cluster Life
42. Common Land (67)
Without common land no social system can survive.
Therefore: Give over a minimum of 25% of the land in house clusters to common land which touches or is very very near the homes which share it. Be wary of the automobile; on no account let it dominate this land.
43. Children's Play (68)
If children don't play enough with other children during the first five years of life, there is a great chance that they will have some kind of mental illness later in their lives.
Therefore: Lay out common land, paths, gardens, and bridges so that groups of at least 64 households are connected by a swath of land that does not cross traffic. Establish this land as the connected play space for the children in these households.
44. Community Pavilions (69)
There are very few spots along the streets of modern towns and neighborhoods where people can relax and rest comfortably, for hours at a time.
Therefore: In every neighborhood and work community, make a piece of common land into an open pavilion, with roof, columns, seating, perhaps with a trellis, and within view of many homes and workshops.
45. Place to Swim (71)
To be in touch with water, we must have a place to swim, preferably daily. Pools, ponds, streams, and swimming holes must be so widely scattered through the city that one can be reached within minutes.
Therefore: In every neighborhood, provide some still water, a pond or pool, for swimming. Keep the pool open to the public at all times, but make the entrance to the pool only from the shallow side of the pool. Make the pool deepen gradually, starting from one or two inches deep.
46. Creative Playground (73)
A castle made of cartons, rocks, and old branches by a group of children for themselves is worth a thousand perfectly detailed exactly finished castles made for them in a factory.
Therefore: Set up a playground for the children in each neighborhood; not a highly finished playground with asphalt and swings, but a place with raw materials of all kinds--nets, boxes, barrels, trees, ropes, simple tools, frames, grass, and water--where children can create and re-create playgrounds of their own.
VI. Family Life
47. Extended Families (75)
The nuclear family is not by itself a viable social form.
Therefore: Set up processes which encourage groups of 8 to 12 people to come together and establish communal households. Morphologically, the important things are:
1. Private realms for the groups and individuals that make up the extended family: couple's realms, private rooms, sub-households for small families.
2. Common space for shared functions: cooking, working, gardening, child care.
3. At the important crossroads of the site, a place where the entire group can meet and sit together.
48. Domains of a House (76, 77, 78)
Whether a house is for a small family, a couple, or an individual certain elements are necessary to create a balance between shared and private space.
Therefore: Divide a house into distinct realms. A realm for parents, a realm for children, a common area, and private realms for when people need solitude. For a single person, simple alcoves bordering one large room may provide sufficient divisions, also the children's domain is not needed.
49. House Ownership and Control (79)
People cannot be genuinely comfortable and healthy in a house which is not theirs. All forms of rental--whether from private landlords or public housing agencies--work against the natural processes which allow people to form stable, self-healing communities.
Therefore: Do everything to make the traditional forms of rental impossible, indeed illegal. Give every household its own home, with space enough for a garden. Keep the emphasis in the definition of ownership on control. Find an ownership mechanism which makes financial speculation impossible or impractical. In all cases give people the legal power, and the physical opportunity to modify and repair their own places. Pay attention to this rule especially in the case of high density apartments: build the apartments in such a way that every individual apartment has a garden or a terrace where vegetables will grow, and that even in this situation, each family can build, and change, and add on to their house as they wish.
50. Self-Governing Workshops (80)
No one enjoys his work if he is a cog in a machine.
Therefore: Encourage the formation of self-governing workshops and offices of 5 to 20 workers. Make each group autonomous with respect to organization, style, relation to other groups, hiring and firing, work schedule. Where the work is complicated and requires larger organizations, several of these work groups can cooperate to produce complex artifacts and services.
51. Human-Scale Work and Services (81)
Departments and public services don't work because they are too large. When they are large, their human qualities vanish, they become bureaucratic, red tape takes over.
Therefore: In every institution make sure that the work is on a human scale:
1. Make each service or department autonomous as far as possible.
2. Allow no one service more than 12 staff members, total.
3. House each one in an identifiable part of the building.
4. Give each one direct access to a public thoroughfare.
52. Master and Apprentices (83)
The fundamental learning situation is one in which a person learns by helping someone who really knows what he is doing.
Therefore: Arrange the work in every workgroup, industry, and office, in such a way that work and learning go forward hand in hand. Treat every piece of work as an opportunity for learning. To this end, organize work around a tradition of masters and apprentices, and support this form of social organization with a division of the workspace into spatial clusters--one for each master and his apprentices--where they can work and meet together.
53. Transition to Adulthood (84)
Teenage is the time of passage between childhood and adulthood. In traditional societies, this passage is accompanied by rites which suit the psychological demands of the transition. But in modern society the "high school" fails entirely to provide this passage.
Therefore: Replace the "high school" with an institution which is actually a model of adult society, in which the students take on most of the responsibility for learning and social life, with clearly defined roles and forms of discipline. Provide adult guidance, both for the learning, and the social structure of the society; but keep them as far as feasible, in the hands of the students.
54. Small Primary Schools (85)
Around the age of 6 or 7, children develop a great need to learn by doing, to make their mark on a community outside the home. If the setting is right, these needs lead children directly to basic skills and habits of learning.
Therefore: Instead of building large public schools for children 7 to 12, set up tiny independent schools, one school at a time. Keep the school small, so that its overhead is low and a teacher-student ratio of 1:10 can be maintained. Locate it in the public part of the community, with a shopfront and three or four rooms.
55. Children's Second Home (86)
The task of looking after little children is a much deeper and more fundamental social issue than the phrases "babysitting" and "child care" suggest.
Therefore: In every neighborhood, build a children's home, a second home for children. A large rambling house or workplace, a place where children can stay for an hour or two, or for a week. At least one of the people who run it must live on the premises; it must be open 24 hours a day; open to children of all ages. And it must be clear from the way that it is run, that it is a second family for the children--not just a place where babysitting is available.
56. Communal Eating (147)
Without communal eating, no human group can hold together.
Therefore: Give every institution and social group a place where people can eat together. Make the common meal a regular event. In particular, start a common lunch in every work place, so that a genuine meal around a common table (not out of boxes, machines, or bags) becomes an important comfortable, and daily event with room for invited guests. Take turns in cooking the lunch. The lunch should become an event, a gathering, something that each one can put love and energy into on his day to cook.
57. Small Work Groups (148)
When more than half a dozen people work in the same place, it is essential that they not be forced to work in one huge undifferentiated space, but instead, divide their workspace to form smaller groups.
Therefore: Break institutions into small, spatially identifiable work groups, with less than half a dozen people in each. Arrange these work groups so that each person is in at least partial view of the other members of his own group. Arrange several groups in such a way that they share a common entrance, food, office equipment, drinking fountains, and bathrooms.
58. Small Meeting Rooms (151)
The larger meetings are, the less people get out of them. But institutions often put their money and attention into large meeting rooms and lecture halls.
Therefore: Make at least 70% of all meeting rooms really small, for 12 people or less. Locate them in the most public parts of the building, evenly scattered among the workplaces.
59. Semi-Private Offices (152)
In an office environment we need to establish the right balance between privacy and availability.
Therefore: Avoid closed off, separate, or private offices. Make every workroom, whether it is for a group of two or three people or for one person, half-open to the other workgroups and the world immediately beyond it. At the front, just inside the door, make comfortable sitting space, with the actual workspace(s) away from the door, and further back.
60. Workspace Enclosure (183)
People cannot work effectively if their workspace is too enclosed or too exposed. A good workspace strikes the balance.
Therefore: Give each workspace an area of at least 60 square feet. Build walls and windows round each workspace to such an extent that their total area (counting windows at one-half) is 50-75% of the full enclosure that would be there if all four walls around the 60 square feet were solid. Let the front of the workspace be open for at least 8 feet in front, always into a larger space. Place the desk so that the person working at it has a view out, either to the front or to the side. If there are other people working nearby, arrange the enclosure so that the person has a sense of connection to two or three others; but never more than eight workspaces within view or earshot of one another.
VIII. Local Shops
61. Owner Operated Shops (87)
When shops are too large, or controlled by absentee owners, they become plastic, bland, and abstract.
Therefore: Do what you can to encourage the development of individually owned shops. Approve applications for business licenses only if the business is owned by those people who actually work and manage the store. Approve new commercial building permits only if the proposed structure includes many very very small owner operated spaces.
62. Outdoor Dining (88)
The street cafe provides a unique setting, special to cities: a place where people can sit lazily, legitimately, be on view, and watch the world go by.
Therefore: Encourage local cafes to spring up in each neighborhood. Make them intimate places, with several rooms, open to a busy path, where people can sit with tea or a smoothy and watch the world go by. Build the front of the cafe so that a set of tables stretch out of the cafe, right out to the street.
63. Corner Grocery (89)
It has lately been assumed that people no longer want to walk to local stores. This assumption is mistaken.
Therefore: Give every neighborhood at least one corner grocery, somewhere near its heart. Place these corner groceries every 200 to 800 yards, according to the density, so that each one serves about 1000 people. Place them on corners, where large numbers of people are going past. And combine them with houses, so that the people who run them can live over them or next to them.
64. Caring for Visitors (91)
A person who stays the night in a strange place is still a member of the human community, and still needs company. There is no reason why he should creep into a hole, and watch TV alone, the way he does in a roadside motel.
Therefore: Make a place, where travelers can take rooms for the night, but where unlike most hotels and motels, he can draw upon the company of other travelers or community members. Extra rooms in homes, hostels, and travelers inns with an inviting communal meeting place would all serve.
65. Public Resting Places (94)
It is a mark of success in a park, public lobby or a porch, when people can come there and fall asleep.
Therefore: Keep the environment filled with ample benches, pavilions, comfortable places to sit on the ground, or lie in comfort in the sand. Make these places relatively sheltered, protected from circulation, perhaps up a step, with seats and grass to slump down upon, read the paper and doze off.
IX. Building Integration
66. Building Complex (95)
A building cannot be a human building unless it is a complex of still smaller buildings or smaller parts which manifest its own internal social facts.
Therefore: Never build large monolithic buildings. Whenever possible translate your building program into a building complex, whose parts manifest the actual social facts of the situation. At low densities, a building complex may take the form of a collection of small buildings connected by arcades, paths, bridges, shared gardens, and walls. At higher densities, a single building can be treated as a building complex, if its important parts are picked out and made identifiable while still part of one three dimensional fabric. Even a small building, a house for example, can be conceived as a "building complex", perhaps part of it is higher than the rest with wings and an adjoining cottage.
67. Four-Story Limit (96)
Within the four-story height limit, just how high should buildings be? Even with a four-story limit conflicts of use can arise.
Therefore: Do not let the height of a building vary too much from the height of surrounding buildings, not more than one story. In no case build on more than 50% of the land.
68. Shielded Parking (97)
Large parking structures full of cars are inhuman and dead. No one wants to see them or walk by them. At the same time, if you are driving, the entrance to a parking structure is essentially the main entrance to the building, and it needs to be visible.
Therefore: Put all large parking lots, or parking garages, behind some kind of natural wall, so that the cars and parking structures cannot be seen from outside. The wall which surrounds the cars may be a building which it serves. Place it so that you can easily see the main entrance to the building from the entrance to the parking.
69. Hierarchy of Realms (98)
In many modern building complexes the problem of disorientation is acute. People have no idea where they are, and they experience considerable mental stress as a result.
Therefore: Lay out very large buildings and collections of small buildings so that one reaches a given point inside by passing through a sequence of realms, each marked by a gateway and becoming smaller and smaller, as one passes from each one, through a gateway, to the next. Choose the realms so that each one can be easily named, so that you can tell a person where to go, simply by telling him which realms to go through.
70. Main Building (99)
A complex of buildings with no center is like a man without a head.
Therefore: For any collection of buildings, decide which building in the group houses the most essential function--which building is the soul of the group, as a human institution. Then form this building as the main building, with a central position, and higher roof. Even if the building complex is so dense that it is a single building, build the main part of it higher and more prominent than the rest, so that the eye goes immediately to the part which is the most important.
71. Rubbing Shoulders (100)
The simple social intercourse created when people "rub shoulders" in public is one of the most essential kinds of social "glue" in society.
Therefore: Arrange buildings so that they form pedestrian streets with many entrances and open stairs directly from the upper stories to the street, so that even movement between rooms is outdoors, not just movement between buildings.
72. Small Parking Lots (103)
Vast parking lots wreck the land for people.
Therefore: Make parking lots small, serving no more than five to seven cars, each lot surrounded by garden walls, hedges, fences, slopes, and trees, so that from outside, the cars are almost invisible. Space these small lots so that they are at least 100 feet apart.
73. Site Repair (104)
Buildings must be built somewhere, but where is the best place? If we build it in the most beautiful place, the process of building will destroy the beauty.
Therefore: Buildings must always be built on those parts of the land which are in the worst condition, not the best. On no account place buildings in the places which are most beautiful. In fact, do the opposite. Consider the site and its buildings as a single living ecosystem. Leave those areas that are the most precious, beautiful, comfortable and healthy as they are, and build new structures in those parts of the site which are least pleasant now...making the whole into a paradise.
74. South Facing Outdoors (105)
People use open space if it is sunny, and do not use it if it isn't, in all but desert or very hot climates.
Therefore: Always place buildings to the north of the outdoor spaces that go with them, and keep the outdoor spaces to the south. Never leave a deep band of shade between the building and the sunny part of the outdoors.
75. North Facing Outdoors...Hot Climates
In very hot climates shade is most relished.
Therefore: Make a place on the north side, out of the sun where people can enjoy the out of doors. Take advantage of prevailing breezes by channeling them into the area.
76. Enclosed Outdoor Space (106)
Outdoor spaces which are merely "left over" between buildings will, in general, not be used.
Therefore: Make all the outdoor spaces which surround and lie between your buildings positive. Give each one some degree of enclosure; surround each space with wings of buildings, hedges, trees, fences, arcades, and trellised walks, until it becomes an entity with a positive quality and is enclosed enough not to spill out indefinitely around corners.
77. Wings of Light (107)
Modern buildings are often shaped with no concern for natural light, they depend almost entirely on artificial light. But buildings which displace natural light as the major source of illumination are not fit places to spend the day.
Therefore: Arrange each building so that it breaks down into wings of which correspond, approximately, to the most important natural social groups within the building. Make each wing long and as narrow as possible, never more than 25 feet wide.
78. Connected Buildings (108)
Isolated buildings are symptoms of a disconnected sick society.
Therefore: Connect existing buildings together wherever possible. Do not keep set backs between buildings. Instead, form new buildings as continuations of the older buildings.
79. Main Entrance (110)
Placing the main entrance is perhaps the single most important step you take during the evolution of a building plan.
Therefore: Place the main entrance of the building at the point where it can be seen immediately from the main avenues of approach and give it a bold, visible shape which stands out in front of the building.
80. House Garden (111)
If a garden is too close to the street, people won't use it because it isn't private enough. But if it is too far from the street, then it won't be used either, because it is too isolated.
Therefore: Do not place the garden fully in front of the house, nor fully to the back. Instead, place it in some kind of halfway position, side by side with the house, in a position which is half hidden from the street, and half exposed.
81. Entrance Transition (112)
Buildings, and especially houses, with a graceful transition between the street and the inside, are more tranquil than those which open directly to the street.
Therefore: Make a transition space between the street and the front door. Bring the path which connects street and entrance through this transition space, and mark it with a change of light, a change of level, perhaps by gateways which make a change of enclosure, and above all with a change of view.
82. Courtyards Which Work (114, 115)
Outdoors, people always try to find a spot where they can have their backs protected, looking out toward some larger opening, beyond the space immediately in front of them.
Therefore: Whatever space you are shaping, whether it is a garden, terrace, street, park, public outdoor room, or courtyard, make sure of two things: First make at least one smaller space, which looks into it and forms a natural back for it. Second, place it and its openings so that it looks into at least one larger space. Place every courtyard in such a way that there is a view out of it to some larger open space, and that at least two or three doors open from the building into it. See that the natural paths which connect these doors pass across the courtyard. At one edge, beside a door, make a roofed veranda or porch which is continuous with both the inside and the courtyard.
83. Cascade of Roofs (116)
Few buildings will be structurally and socially intact, unless the floors step down toward the ends of wings, and unless the roof, accordingly, forms a cascade.
Therefore: Visualize the whole building, or building complex, as a system of roofs. Place the largest, highest, and widest roofs over those parts of the building which are most significant: when you come to lay the roofs out in detail, you will be able to make all lesser roofs cascade off these large roofs and form a stable self-buttressing system, which is congruent with the hierarchy of social spaces underneath the roofs.
84. Sheltering Roof (117)
The roof plays a primal role in our lives. The most primitive buildings are nothing but a roof. If the roof is hidden, if its presence cannot be felt around the building, or if it cannot be used, then people will lack a fundamental sense of shelter.
Therefore: Slope the roof or make a vault of it, make its entire surface visible, and bring the eaves of the roof down low, as low as 6 feet or 6' 6" at the places like the entrance, where people pause. Build the top story of each wing right into the roof, so that the roof does not only cover it, but actually surrounds it.
85. Roof Garden (118)
A vast part of the earth's surface, in a town, consists of roofs. Couple this with the fact that the total area of a town which can be exposed to the sun is finite, and you will realize that it is natural, indeed essential, to make roofs which take advantage of the sun and air.
Therefore: Make parts of almost every roof system usable as roof gardens. Make these parts flat, perhaps terraced for planting, with places to sit and sleep, private places. Place the roof gardens at various stories, and always make it possible to walk directly out onto the roof garden from some lived-in part of the building.
86. Covered Walkways, Arcades (119)
Covered walkways at the edge of buildings, which are partly inside, partly outside, play a vital role in the way that people interact with buildings.
Therefore: Whenever paths run along the edge of buildings, build arcades, and use the arcades, above all, to connect the buildings to each other, so that a person can walk from place to place under the cover of the arcades.
87. Paths and Goals (120)
The layout of paths will seem right and comfortable only when it is compatible with the process of walking. And the process of walking is far more subtle than one might imagine.
Therefore: To lay out paths, first place goals at natural points of interest. Then connect the goals to one another to form the paths. The paths may be straight, or gently curving between the goals; their paving should swell around the goal. The goals should never be more than a few hundred feet apart.
88. Paths with a Bulge (121)
Some parts of the street should be for staying in, not just for moving through, the way it is today.
Therefore: Make a bulge in the middle of a public path, and make the ends narrower, so that the path forms an enclosure which is a place to stay, not just a place to pass through.
89. Building Fronts (122)
Building set-backs from the street, originally invented to protect the public welfare by giving every building light and air, have actually helped greatly to destroy the street as a social space.
Therefore: On no account allow set-backs between streets or paths or public open land and the buildings which front on them. The set-backs do nothing valuable and almost always destroy the value of the open areas between the buildings. Build right up to the paths; change the laws in all communities where obsolete bylaws make this impossible. And let the building fronts take on slightly uneven angles as they accommodate to the shape of the street.
90. Pedestrian Density (123)
Many of our modern public squares, though intended as lively plazas, are in fact deserted and dead.
Therefore: For public squares, courts, pedestrian streets, any place where crowds are drawn together, estimate the mean number of people in the place at any given moment (P), and make the area of the place between 150P and 300P square feet.
91. Pockets of Activity (124)
The life of a public square forms naturally around its edge. If the edge fails, then the space never becomes lively.
Therefore: Surround public gathering places with pockets of activity--small, partly enclosed areas at the edges, which jut forward into the open space between the paths, and contain activities which make it natural for people to pause and get involved.
92. Public Seating (125)
Wherever there is action in a place, the spots which are the most inviting, are those high enough to give people a vantage point, and low enough to put them in action. This is the place to have seating.
Therefore: In any public place where people loiter, add a few steps at the edge where stairs come down or where there is a change of level. Make these raised areas immediately accessible from below, so that people may congregate and sit to watch the goings-on. Place benches or sitting walls to provide a sitting place also.
93. Plaza Focal Point (126)
A public space without something roughly in the middle to provide a focal point of interest is likely to stay empty.
Therefore: Between the natural paths which cross a public square or courtyard or a piece of common land choose something to place roughly in the middle: a fountain, a tree, a statue, a clock-tower with seats, a windmill, a pavilion, etc. Make it something which gives a strong and steady pulse to the square, drawing people in toward the center. Leave it exactly where it falls between the paths; resist the impulse to put it exactly in the middle.
94. Intimacy Gradient (127)
Unless the spaces in a building are arranged in a sequence which corresponds to their degrees of privateness, the visits made by strangers, friends, guests, clients, family, will always be a little awkward.
Therefore: Lay out the spaces of a building so that they create a sequence which begins with the entrance and the most public parts of the building, then leads into the slightly more private areas, and finally to the most private domains.
95. Indoor Sunlight (128)
If the right rooms are facing south, a house is bright, sunny, and cheerful; if the wrong rooms are facing south, the house is dark and gloomy.
Therefore: Place the most important rooms along the south edge of the building, and spread the building out along the east-west axis. Fine tune the arrangement so that the proper rooms are exposed to the southeast and the southwest sun. For example: give the common area a full southern exposure, bedrooms southeast, porch southwest. For most climates this means the shape of the building is elongated east-west.
96. Common Areas at the Heart (129)
No social group, whether a family, a work group, or a school group, can survive without constant informal contact among its members!
Therefore: Create a single common area for every social group. Locate it at the center of gravity of all the spaces the group occupies, and in such a way that the paths which go in and out of the building lie tangent to it.
97. Entrance Room (130)
Arriving in a building, or leaving it, you need a room to pass through, both inside the building and outside it. This is the entrance room.
Therefore: At the main entrance to a building, make a light-filled room which marks the entrance and straddles the boundary between indoors and outdoors, covering some space outdoors and some space indoors. The outside part may be like an old-fashioned porch; the inside like a hall or sitting room.
98. Indoor Circulation (131)
The movement between rooms is as important as the rooms themselves. Room arrangement has as much effect on social interaction within each room as the interiors of the rooms themselves.
Therefore: As far as possible, avoid the use of corridors and passages. Instead, use public rooms and common rooms as room for movement and for gathering. To do this, place the common rooms to form a chain, or loop, so that it becomes possible to walk from room to room even to get to private rooms. In every case, give this indoor circulation a feeling of great generosity with wide walkways, windows, and views. Keep passageways short.
99. Zen View (134)
A beautiful view is often best framed in the most subtle way, and comes as a constant surprise.
Therefore: If there is a beautiful view, don't spoil it by building huge windows that gape incessantly at it. Instead, put the windows which look onto the view at places of transition--along paths, in passageways, in entry ways, on stairs, between rooms. If the view window is correctly placed, people will see a glimpse of the distant view as they come up to the window or pass it, but the view is never visible from the places where people stay.
100. Tapestry of Light and Dark (135)
In a building with uniform light level, there are few "places" which function as effective settings for human events. This happens because, to a large extent, the places which make effective settings are defined by light.
Therefore: Create alternating areas of light and dark throughout the building in such a way that people naturally walk toward the light whenever they are going to important places: seats, entrances, stairs, passages, places of special beauty. Make other areas darker, to increase the contrast.
X. Housing Design
101. Couples Realm (136)
The presence of children in a family often destroys the closeness and the special privacy which a man and wife need together.
Therefore: Make a special part of the house distinct from the common areas and all the children's rooms, where the man and woman of the house can be together in private. Give this place a quick path to the children's rooms, but at all costs, make it a distinctly separate realm.
102. Children's Realm (137)
If children do not have a space to release a tremendous amount of energy when they need to, they will drive themselves and everybody else in the family up the wall.
Therefore: Start with the small area which will belong entirely to the children--the cluster of their beds. Place it in a separate position toward the back of the house, and in such a way that a continuous playspace can be made from this cluster to the street, almost like a wide swath inside the house, where all the chaos travels to and fro. Let this swath pass the common area along one side but leave the quiet sitting areas and the couple's realm entirely separate and inviolate. Finally let it end in an outdoor room where the children can play when it rains, yet still be outdoors.
103. Sleeping to the East (138)
The sun peeks over the eastern horizon. We should be there to greet it, gently awakened by its light.
Therefore: Give those parts of the house where people sleep an eastern orientation so that they wake up with the sun and light. This means, typically, that the sleeping area needs to be on the eastern side of the house; but it can also be on the western side provided there is a courtyard or a terrace to the east of it.
104. Living Kitchens (139)
The isolated kitchen, separate from the family and considered as an efficient but unpleasant factory for food is a hangover from the days of servants, and from the more recent days when women willingly took over the servants' role.
Therefore: Make the kitchen bigger than usual, big enough to include the "family room" space, and place it near the center of the commons, not so far back in the house as an ordinary kitchen. Make it large enough to hold a good big table and chairs, some soft and some hard, with counters, stove, and sink around the edge of the room. Make it a bright and comfortable room.
105. Street Terrace (140)
The relationship of a house to a street is often confused. Either the house opens entirely to the street and there is no privacy, or the house turns its back on the street and communion with street life is lost.
Therefore: Let the common rooms open onto a wide terrace or a porch which looks into the street. Raise the terrace slightly above street level and protect it with a low wall, which you can see over if you sit near it, but which prevents people on the street from looking into the common rooms.
106. A Room of One's Own (141)
No one can be close to others, without also having frequent opportunities to be alone.
Therefore: Give each member of the family a room of his own, especially adults. A minimum room of one's own is an alcove with desk, shelves, and curtain. The maximum is a cottage--like a teenagers' cottage (154) or and old age cottage (155). In all cases, especially for adults, place these rooms at the far ends of the intimacy gradient, far from the common rooms.
107. Varied Seating Enclosure (142)
Every corner of a building is a potential sitting space. But each sitting space has different needs for comfort and enclosure according to its position in the intimacy gradient.
Therefore: Put in a sequence of graded sitting spaces throughout the building, varying according to their degree of enclosure. Enclose the most formal ones entirely in rooms by themselves. Put the least formal ones in corners of other rooms without any kind of screen around them. Place the intermediate one with a partial enclosure around them to keep them connected to some larger space, but also partly separate.
108. Children's Sleeping Room (143)
Every child in the family needs a private place, generally centered around the bed. But in many cultures, perhaps all cultures, young children feel isolated if they sleep alone, if their sleeping area is too private.
Therefore: Place the children's beds in alcoves or small alcove-like rooms, around a common playspace. Make each alcove large enough to contain a table, chair, shelves, and some floor area where each child has his own things. Give the alcoves curtains looking into the common space, but not walls or doors which would tend to isolate the beds too much.
109. Bathing Room (144)
Bathing should be more than just washing. It should be a time to relax and revitalize the spirit.
Therefore: Place the showers, baths, basins, and toilets in a single large tiled bathing room. Locate it near the couple's realm, with private access, in a position halfway between the private secluded parts of the house and the common areas. If possible give it access to the outdoors, perhaps a tiny balcony or walled garden. Put in a large bath, an efficiency shower, and basins for the actual business of cleaning. Place two or three racks for huge towels: one by the door, one by the shower, one by the sink.
110. Storage Space (145)
In houses and workplaces there is always some need for build storage space, a place for things like suitcases, old furniture, old files, boxes--all those things which you are not ready to throw away, and yet not using today.
Therefore: Do not leave bulk storage till last or forget it. Include a volume for bulk storage in the building--at least 15 percent of the floor area. It doesn't need a finish.
XI. Miscellaneous Rooms
111. Teenager's Cottage (154)
If a teenager's place in the home does not reflect his need for a measure of independence, he will be locked in conflict with his family.
Therefore: To mark a child's coming of age, transform his place in the home into a kind of cottage that expresses in a physical way the beginnings of independence. Keep the cottage attached to the home, but make it a distinctly visible bulge, far away from the master bedroom, with its own private entrance, perhaps its own roof.
112. Old Age Cottage (154)
Old people, especially when they are alone, face a terrible dilemma. On the one hand, there are inescapable forces pushing them toward independence: their children move away, the neighborhood changes, their friends, wives, husbands die. On the other hand, by the very nature of aging, old people become dependent on simple conveniences, simple connections to the society about them.
Therefore: Build small cottages specifically for old people. Build some of them on the land of larger houses, for a grandparent; build others on individual lots, much smaller than ordinary lots. In all cases, place these cottages at ground level, right on the street, where people are walking by, and close to neighborhood services and common land.
113. Working at Home (156, 157)
Modern society undermines the social structure by absolutely segregating work and home life to the extent that the children rarely know what it is exactly that their parents do. The relationship of work life to social life gets lost.
Therefore: Give each person the chance to set up a workplace within or very near the home. Change the zoning laws to encourage modest, quiet work operations in neighborhoods. Let them be accessible to the youth so that they can see the work and responsibilities of their elders, and learn how their lives can be productive and happy.
114. Outdoor Stairs (158)
Internal staircases reduce the connection between upper stories and the life on the street to such an extent that they can do enormous social damage.
Therefore: Do away, as far as possible, with internal staircases in institutions. Connect all autonomous households, public services, and workgroups on the upper floors of buildings directly to the ground by creating open stairs which can be approached directly from the street. Keep the stair roofed or unroofed, according to climate, but at all events leave the stair functionally a continuation of the street. Build no upstairs corridors. Instead, make open landings or an open arcade where upstairs units share a single stair.
XII. Building & Room Design
115. Light on Two Sides (159)
When people have a choice, they will always gravitate to those rooms which have light on two sides, and leave the rooms which are lit only from one side unused and empty.
Therefore: Locate each room so that it has outdoor space outside it on at least two sides, and then place windows in these outdoor walls so that natural light falls into every room from more than one direction.
116. Building Edge (160)
Most modern buildings create a hostile boundary to the public which cannot support public use or neighborhood life. This makes them socially sterile and promotes social isolation, impersonal relationships, and a pathological social structure.
Therefore: Make sure to treat the edge of the building with social responsibility and encourage its use. Create zones with volume and thickness to them which can caress and shelter a passerby. Build into the edge of buildings the kinds of places that invite people to stop. Make places that have depth and a covering, places to sit, lean, and walk, especially at those points along the perimeter which look onto interesting outdoor life.
117. Sunny Place (161)
The area immediately outside of a building on the south side where the sun falls offers an opportunity to create a Sunny Place.
Therefore: Inside a south-facing court, or garden, or yard, find the spot between the building and the outdoors which gets the best sun. Develop this spot as a special sunny place--make it the important outdoor room, a place to work in the sun, or a place for a swing and some special plants, a place to sunbathe. Be careful indeed to place the sunny place in a position where it is sheltered from the wind. A steady wind will prevent you from using the most beautiful place.
118. Outdoor Room (163)
A garden is the place for lying in the grass, swinging, croquet, growing flowers, and appreciating outdoor beauty. But there is another way of being outdoors and its need are not met by the garden at all.
Therefore: Build a place outdoors which has so much enclosure round it that it takes on the feeling of a room, even though it is open to the sky. To do this, define it at the corners with columns, perhaps roof it partially with a trellis or a sliding canvas roof, and create "walls" around it, with fences, sitting walls, screens, hedges, or the exterior walls of the building itself.
119. Indoor-Outdoor Transition (166)
If people cannot walk out from the building onto balconies and terraces which look toward the outdoor space around the building, then neither they themselves nor the people outside feel that the building and the larger public world are intertwined.
Therefore: Whenever possible, and at every story, build porches, galleries, arcades, balconies, niches, outdoor seats, awnings, trellised rooms, and the like at the edges of buildings--especially where they open to public spaces and streets, and connect them by doors, directly to the rooms inside.
120. Six-foot Balcony (167)
Balconies and porches which are less than six feet deep are hardly ever used.
Therefore: Whenever you build a balcony, a porch, a gallery, or a terrace always make it at least six feet deep. If possible, recess at least a part of it into the building so that it is not cantilevered out and separated from the building by a simple line, and enclose it partially.
121. Connection to the Earth (168)
A house feels isolated from the nature around it, unless its floors are interleaved directly with the earth that is around the house.
Therefore: Connect the building to the earth around it by building a series of paths and terraces and steps around the edge. Place them deliberately to make the boundary ambiguous--so that it is impossible to say exactly where the building stops and earth begins.
122. Terraced Slope (169)
On sloping land, erosion caused by run off can kill the soil. It also creates uneven distribution of rainwater, which naturally does less for plant life than it could if it were evenly distributed.
Therefore: On all land which slopes--in fields, in parks, in public gardens, even in the private gardens around a house--make a system of terraces and bunds which follow the contour lines. Make them by building low walls along the contour lines, and then backfilling them with earth to form the terraces. Buildings can also be tiered to comfortably cross terrace lines.
123. Edible Landscape (170)
In climates where fruit trees grow, the orchards give the land an almost magical identity: think of the orange groves of Southern California, the cherry trees of Japan, the olive trees of Greece. But the growth of cities seems always to destroy these trees and the quality they possess.
Therefore: Plant small orchards of fruit trees, grape vines, berries, etc. in gardens and on common land along paths and streets, in parks, in neighborhoods--and encourage the people in these areas to organize themselves to care for the trees and harvest the fruit.
124. Tree Places (171)
When trees are planted, pruned, or cut without regard for the special places they can create, they are as good as dead for the people who need them.
Therefore: Do not cut down trees if there is a way to build taking their special life into account. Trees take decades to grow. If you are planting trees, plant them according to their nature, to form enclosures, avenues, squares, and groves. Plant single spreading trees toward the middle of open spaces. Shape the nearby buildings in response to the trees, so that the trees themselves, and the trees and buildings together form places which people can use.
125. Wild Gardens (172)
A garden which grows true to its own laws is not a wilderness, yet not entirely artificial either. Only such a garden supports birds, crickets, bees and other life.
Therefore: Grow grasses, mosses, bushes, flowers, and trees in a way which comes close to the way that they occur in nature: intermingled, without barriers between them, without bare earth, without formal flower beds, and with all the boundaries and edges made in rough stone and brick and wood which become a part of the natural growth.
126. Garden Wall (173)
Gardens and small public parks don't give enough relief from noise unless they are well protected.
Therefore: Form some kind of enclosure to protect the interior of a quiet garden from the sights and sounds of passing traffic. If it is a large garden or a park, the enclosure can be soft, can include bushes, trees, slopes, and so on. The smaller the garden, however, the harder and more definite the enclosure must become. In a very small garden, form the enclosure with buildings or walls; even hedges and fences will not be enough to keep out sound.
127. Trellised Walk (174)
Trellised walks have their own special beauty. They are so unique, so different from other ways of shaping a path, that they are almost archetypal.
Therefore: Where paths need special protection or where they need some intimacy, build a trellis over the path and plant it with climbing flowers. Use the trellis to help shape the outdoor spaces on either side of it.
128. Greenhouse (175)
Many efforts are being made to harness solar energy by converting it into hot water or electric power. Yet the easiest way to harness solar energy is the most obvious and the oldest: namely to trap the heat inside a greenhouse and use for growing flowers and vegetables.
Therefore: In temperate climates, build a greenhouse as part of your house or office, so that it is both a "room" of the house which can be reached directly without going outside and a part of the garden which can be reached directly from the garden.
129. Garden Seat (176)
Somewhere in every garden, there must be at least one spot, a quiet garden seat, in which a person--or two people--can reach into themselves and be in touch with nothing else but nature.
Therefore: Make a quiet place in the garden--a private enclosure with a comfortable seat, thick planting, and sun. Pick the place for the seat carefully; pick one that will give you the most intense kind of solitude.
130. Vegetable Garden (177)
In a healthy town every family can grow vegetables for itself. The time is past to think of this as a hobby for enthusiasts; it is a fundamental part of human life.
Therefore: Set aside one piece of land either in the private garden or on common land as a vegetable garden. About one-tenth of an acre is needed for each family of four. Make sure the vegetable garden is in a sunny place and central to all the households it serves. Fence it in and build a small storage shed for gardening tools beside it.
131. Compost (178)
Our current ways of getting rid of sewage, poison the great bodies of natural water and rob the land around our buildings of the nutrients they need. Also they use excessive amounts of water for transport.
Therefore: Arrange to collect and process all human and garbage wastes on site so that they may be safely returned to the land. Preference should be given to methods which do not require water transport and which destroy pathogens. Systems which create high temperatures are safest. Several commercial composting and dehydration systems have been tested and proven not only to be safe but lower in costs than conventional water carrying systems.
XIV. Building Interiors
132. Alcoves (179)
No homogeneous room, of homogeneous height, can serve a group of people well. To give a group a chance to be together, as a group, a room must also give them the chance to be alone, in one's and two's in the same place.
Therefore: Make small places at the edge of any common room, usually no more than 6 feet wide and 3 to 6 feet deep and possibly much smaller. These alcoves should be large enough for two people to sit, chat, or play and sometimes large enough to contain a desk or a table.
133. Window Alcove (180)
Everybody loves window seats, bay windows, and big windows with low sills and comfortable chairs drawn up to them.
Therefore: In every room where you spend any length of time during the day, make at least one window into a "window place."
134. Bed Alcove (188)
The space around a bed is nearly always wasted.
Therefore: Don't put beds in rooms by themselves called bedrooms. Instead, put individual beds in alcoves of rooms with other nonsleeping functions, so that the bed itself becomes a tiny haven in a nook of its own, and the room better serves a variety of functions.
135. Dressing Rooms
Dressing and undressing, storing clothes, having clothes lying around, have no reason to be part of any larger complex of activities. Indeed they disturb other activities: they are so self-contained that they need their own concentrated space which has no other function.
Therefore: Give everyone a dressing room--either private or shared--between their bed and the bathing room. Make this dressing room big enough so there is an open area in it at least six feet in diameter with about six linear feet of clothes hanging space, another six feet of open shelves, two or three drawers, and a mirror.
136. Sitting in a Circle (185)
A group of chairs, a sofa and a chair, a pile of cushions--these are the most obvious things in everybody's life--and yet making them work, so that people become animated and alive in them, is a very subtle business. Most seating arrangements are sterile, people avoid them, nothing ever happens there. Others seem somehow to gather life around them, to concentrate and liberate energy. It is positioning which makes the difference.
Therefore: Place each sitting space in a position which is protected, not cut by paths or movement, roughly circular, made so that the room itself helps to suggest the circle--not too strongly--with paths and activities around it, so that people naturally gravitate toward the chairs when they get into the mood to sit. Place the chairs and cushions loosely in the circle, and have a few too many.
137. Ceiling Height Variety (190)
A building in which the ceiling heights are all the same is virtually incapable of making people comfortable.
Therefore: Vary the ceiling heights continuously throughout the building, especially between rooms which open into each other, so that the relative intimacy of different spaces can be felt. In particular, make ceilings high in rooms which are public or meant for large gatherings (10 to 12 feet), lower in rooms for smaller gatherings (7 to 9 feet), and very low in rooms or alcoves for one or two people (5 to 7 feet).
138. Varied Room Shapes (191)
The perfectly crystalline squares and rectangles of ultramodern architecture make no special sense in human or in structural terms. They only express the rigid desires and fantasies which people have when they get too preoccupied with systems and the means of their production. Using 90 degree angles throughout the structure makes the structure boring.
Therefore: Allow room shapes to vary according to the intended use. Interior corner angles should be 90 degrees or more. Walls should be vertical until at least shoulder or head height. Rooms may be roughly square, rectangular, hexagonal, or octagonal, with an occasional curved wall. Ceilings should be vaulted and vary in height according to room size.
139. Rooms with a View (192)
Rooms without a view are prisons for people who have to stay in them.
Therefore: In each room, place the windows so that their total area equals roughly 25% of floor area, and place them in positions which give the best possible views out over life: activities in streets, quiet gardens, anything different from the indoor scene.
140. Room Connections (193)
Rooms which are too closed prevent the natural flow of social activities, and transitions of social activities one to another. Rooms which are too open will not support a wide variety of social events.
Therefore: Adjust the walls, openings, and windows in each indoor space until you reach the right balance between open, flowing space and closed cell-like space. Do not take it for granted that each space is a room; nor, on the other hand, that all spaces must flow into each other. The right balance will always lie between these extremes: No single room entirely enclosed; and no space totally connected to another. Use combinations of columns, half-open walls, porches, indoor windows, sliding doors, low sills, french doors, sitting walls, and so on, to hit the right balance.
141. Staircase Volume (195)
Lay people often make mistakes about the volume which a staircase needs and make their plans unbuildable.
Therefore: Make a two story volume to contain the stairs. It may be straight, L-shaped, U-shaped, or C-shaped. The stair may be 2 feet wide (for a very steep stair) or 5 feet wide for a generous shallow stair. But, in all cases, the entire stairwell must form one complete structural bay, two stories. Do not assume that all stairs have to have the "standard" angle of 30 degrees. The steepest stair may almost be a ladder. The most generous stair can be as shallow as a ramp and quite wide. As you work out the exact slope of your stair, bear in mind the relationship: riser + tread = 17 1/2 inches.
142. Doors Near the Corners (196)
The success of a room depends to a great extent on the position of doors. If the doors create a pattern of movement which destroys the places in the room, the room will never allow people to be comfortable.
Therefore: Except in very large rooms, a door only rarely makes sense in the middle of a wall. It does in an entrance room, for instance, because this room gets its character essentially from the door. But in most rooms, especially small ones, put the doors as near the corners of the room as possible. If the room has two doors, and people move through it, keep both doors at one end of the room.
143. Thick Walls (197)
Houses with smooth hard walls made of prefabricated panels, concrete, gypsum, steel, aluminum, or glass always stay impersonal and dead.
Therefore: Open your mind to the possibility that the walls of your building can be thick, can occupy a substantial volume--even actual usable space--and need not be merely thin membranes which have no depth. Decide where these thick walls ought to be. Choose materials which give a sense of timelessness, texture, and depth.
144. Closets Between Rooms (198)
The provision of storage and closets usually comes as an afterthought.
Therefore: Mark all the rooms where you want closets. Then place the closets themselves on those interior walls which lie between two rooms and between rooms and passages where you need acoustic insulation. Place them so as to create transition spaces for the doors into the rooms. On no account put closets on exterior walls. It wastes the opportunity for good acoustic insulation and cuts off precious light.
145. Sunny Kitchen (199)
Dark gloomy Kitchens are depressing. The kitchen needs the sun more than the other rooms, not less.
Therefore: Place the main part of the kitchen counter on the south and southeast side of the kitchen, with big windows around it, so that sunlight can flood in and fill the kitchen with yellow light both morning and afternoon.
146. Open Shelves (200)
Cupboards that are too deep waste valuable space and it always seems that what you want is behind something.
Therefore: Cover the walls with narrow shelves of varying depth but always shallow enough so that things can be placed on them one deep--nothing hiding behind anything else.
147. Built-in Seats (202)
Built-in seats are great. Everybody loves them. They make a building feel comfortable and luxurious. But most often they do not actually work. They are placed wrong, are too narrow, the back doesn't slope, the view is wrong, or the seat is too hard.
Therefore: Before you build the seat, get hold of an old arm chair or a sofa, and put it into the position where you intend to build a seat. Move it until you really like. Leave it there for a few days. See if you enjoy sitting in it. Move it if you don't. When you have got it into a position which you like, and where you often find yourself sitting, you know it is a good position. Now build a seat that is just as wide, and just as well padded--and your built-in seat will work.
148. Children's Caves (203)
Children love to be in tiny, cave-like places.
Therefore: Wherever children play, around the house, in the neighborhood, in schools, make small "caves" for them. Tuck these caves away in natural left over spaces, under stairs, under kitchen counters. Keep the ceiling heights low--2 1/2 to 4 feet--and the entrance tiny.
149. Meditation Cave
Everyone needs a place of absolute silence to be alone within oneself.
Therefore: Set aside a small room or partition off part of a room that is used strictly for deep silence.
XV. Construction Technologies
150. Structure Follows Social Spaces (205)
No building ever feels right unless the physical spaces defined by the structure are created to fulfill the social activities which will take place there. If only one pattern among all the patterns listed were to be followed, this would be the most important one.
Therefore: Avoid rigid geometries. On no account allow engineering and mass manufacturing technologies to dictate the building's form. Place load bearing elements and other structural elements according to the social spaces. Design as though all materials were completely responsive to your exact desires. Never modify the social spaces to conform to engineering considerations. Instead, choose other materials which will retain the social integrity. Compromise of this pattern is not ever necessary. This pattern is hardly ever present in modern construction.
151. Efficient Structure (206)
Taking all considerations into account: costs, energy to produce, durability, workability, and availability; the best combination of elements to create an efficient structure uses locally available compressive materials arranged horizontally (flat) for floors, vertically for walls and columns, and arched for doors, windows, and roofs.
Therefore: Conceive the building as being one continuous body of compressive material containing individually vaulted spaces bordered by thin load-bearing walls each stiffened by columns at intervals along its length, thickened where walls meet walls, vaults, or openings.
152. Good Materials (207)
There is a fundamental conflict in the nature of materials used for building in our industrial society. Mass production creates artificial materials which destroy the simple, natural quality of life. This is true of the building itself and also true the process of manufacture. New techniques of using natural materials is the order of the day.
Therefore: Use only biodegradable, low energy consuming materials, which are easy to cut and modify on site. For bulk materials use ultra-lightweight 40-60 lbs. concrete and earth-based materials like tamped earth, brick, stone, and tile. For secondary materials, use wood planks, gypsum, plywood, cloth, chickenwire, paper, cardboard, corrugated iron, lime plasters, bamboo, rope, and wire. (Technical note: Use tensile materials to create a high moment of inertia).
153. Gradual Stiffening (208)
The fundamental philosophy behind the use of pattern languages is that buildings should be uniquely adapted to individual needs and sites. The plans of buildings should be rather loose and fluid, in order to accommodate these subtleties.
Therefore: Recognize that you are not assembling a building from components like an erector set, but that you are instead weaving a structure which starts out globally complete, but flimsy. Gradually make it stiffer, then finally make it completely stiff and strong.
The most natural process is to progressively build up composite materials, layer by layer, starting with sheet materials to define the first physical boundary.
In designing structures of all types do not begin with paper and ruler. Designers who confine themselves to straight-edged rulers never break out of the mold of rigid architectural designs.
Use pencil and paper only to create rough ideas on paper. Begin with circular motions to define the social uses of each room. Work with the most global patterns first. Postpone detail design decisions as long as possible. Try to avoid blueprints altogether.
154. Curved on Top
Buildings made with only straight lines are boring and wasteful of materials. They are the result of rigid thinking, mass production limitations, and architects who use rulers to lay out their designs.
Therefore: Create structures which use some curved elements to gain charm and imagination as well as efficient design. The architectural elements which should nearly always be curved are the tops of doorways, windows, and ceilings.
155. Floor and Ceiling Layout (210
Two or more storied buildings have structural considerations which need to be taken into account; mainly, that the load bearing elements of the upper level transmit their stresses into the load bearing elements of the structure below.
Therefore: Draw a rough elevation of the building to ensure that the floor and walls of the upper story transmit their stresses into the supporting structure underneath.
161. Columns at the Corners (212)
Translating your rough plan into physical reality requires a methodology.
Therefore: On your rough plan, draw a dot to represent a column at the corner of every room and a dot for each corner formed by lesser spaces like thick walls and alcoves. Then transfer these dots onto the ground out on the site with stakes. The whole building can be generated from columns built at the stake sites without elaborate blueprints.
157. Column Distribution (213)
Columns may be needed to reinforce walls between corners. The spacing will vary with ceiling height, number of stories, and the size of rooms.
Therefore: Make column stiffeners furthest apart on the ground floor and closer and closer together as you go higher in the building. The exact column spacings for a particular building will depend on heights, loads, and wall thicknesses. The columns themselves will be smaller on the upper floors. A rough approximation is given below:
No. of Stories:
Ground Floor -- 2nd Floor -- 3rd Floor -- 4th Floor
2) 3'-6' -- 1'-3'
3) 4'-8' -- 3'-6' -- 1'-3'
4) 5'-inf -- 4'-8' -- 3'-6' -- 1'-3'
Mark these columns on the rough drawings, evenly spaced on each wall.
158. Root Foundations (214)
The best foundations of all are the kinds of foundations which a tree has--where the entire structure of the tree simply continues below the ground level, and creates a system entirely integral with the earth, in tension and compression.
Therefore: Try to find a way of making foundations in which the columns themselves go right into the earth, and spread out there--so that the footing is continuous with the material of the column, and the column, with its footing, like a tree root, can resist tension and horizontal shear as well as compression.
159. Ground Floor Slab (215)
The slab is the easiest, cheapest, and most natural way to lay a ground floor, although for some floors (perhaps in an unfinished section) a rough brick or tile floor laid directly on bedding may be sufficient.
Therefore: Build a ground floor slab, raised slightly--six to nine inches above the ground--by first building a low perimeter wall around the building, tied into the column foundations, and then filling it with rubble, gravel, and concrete.
160. Columns of Beauty (216)
In all the world's traditional and historic buildings, the columns are expressive, beautiful, and treasured elements. Only in modern buildings have they become ugly and meaningless.
Therefore: Make columns in the form of hollow tubes which have substantial diameters. Give the skin the tensile strength and the interior the compressive strength. Create a high moment of inertia.
161. Perimeter Beams (217)
If the rooms are created by placing columns at the corners, and then gradually weaving the walls and ceiling around them, the room needs a perimeter beam around its upper edge.
Therefore: Build a continuous perimeter beam around the room, strong enough to resist the horizontal thrust of the vault above, to spread the loads from the upper stories onto columns, to tie the columns together, and to function as a lintel over openings in the wall. Make this beam continuous with columns, walls and floor above, and columns and walls below in the case of multistories.
162. Wall Membrane / Tilt-up Walls (218)
In organic construction the walls must take their share of the loads. They must work continuously with the structure on all four of their sides; and act to resist shear and bending, and take loads in compression.
Therefore: Build substantial walls. Build the wall as a membrane which connects the columns, door frames and window frames; and is, at least in part, continuous with them. One method to build the wall, is to first put up an inner and outer membrane, which can function as a finished surface; then pour the fill into the wall. Another method is to pour the wall into a horizontal frame, tilt it up, then tie it into the rest of the structure. Use very light weight concrete for the fill with reinforcing tensile-strength materials in the skin to increase the moment of inertia.
163. Vaulted Ceilings (219)
In order to build using compressive materials we must generate as little bending and tension as possible. The design which will support a live load on the floor above is the ceiling vault.
Therefore: Build floors and ceilings in the form of elliptical vaults which rise between 13 and 20 per cent of the shorter span. Use a type of construction which makes it possible to fit the vault to any shaped room after the walls and columns are in position: on no account use a prefabricated vault.
164. Roof Vaults (220)
As with floors and ceilings, the vaulted shape is the ideal shape for roofs when using compressive materials.
Therefore: Build the roof in a vaulted shape to keep the stresses all in compression. Curvature may be in one dimension only as in the case of barrel vaults and gothic arches, or in two dimensions as in elliptical vaults.
165. Natural Doors and Windows (221)
Finding the right position for a window or a door is a subtle matter. But there are very few ways of building which take this into consideration.
Therefore: On no account use standard doors or windows. Allow each window to be a different size, according to its place. Do not fix the exact position or size of the door and window frames until the rough structure of the room has actually been built, and you can really stand inside the room and judge, by eye, exactly where you want to put them, and how big you want them. When you decide, mark the openings with strings. Make the windows smaller and smaller, as you go higher in the building.
166. Low Sills (222)
One of a window`s most important functions is to put you in touch with the outdoors. If the sill is too high, it cuts you off.
Therefore: When the determining exact location of windows also decide which windows should have low sills. On the first floor, make the sills of windows which you plan to sit by between 12 and 14 inches high. On the upper stories, make them higher, around 20 inches.
167. Splayed Window Edges (223)
Windows with a sharp edge where the frame meets the wall create harsh, blinding glare, and make the rooms they serve uncomfortable.
Therefore: Make the window frame a deep, splayed edge: about a foot wide and spayed at about 50 to 60 degrees to the plane of the window, so that the gentle gradient of daylight gives a smooth transition between the light of the window and the dark of the inner wall.
168. Thickened Edges at Openings (225)
Any homogeneous membrane which has holes in it will tend to rupture at the holes, unless the edges of the holes are reinforced by thickening.
Therefore: Do not consider door and window frames as separate rigid structures which are inserted into holes in walls. Think of them instead as thickenings of the very fabric of the wall itself, made to protect the wall against the concentrations of stress which develop around openings. In line with this conception, build the frames as thickenings of the wall material, continuous with the wall itself, made of the same materials, and poured, or built up, in the manner which is continuous with the structure of the wall.
169. Thick Columns (226)
Thin columns, spindly columns, columns which take their shape from structural arguments alone, will never make a comfortable environment.
Therefore: When a column is free standing, make it as thick as a man--at least 12 inches, preferably 16 inches; and form places around it where people can sit and lean comfortably: a step, a small seat built up against the column, or a space formed by a pair of columns.
170. Column Connections (227)
The feeling of strength as well as the physical strength of a structure depends on the strength of its connections. This is especially true at the corners where the columns meet the beams.
Therefore: Where columns meet beams, build connections which fill up the interconnection. Use fillets, gussets, column capitals, mushroom columns, or arches to connect them and give them strength.
171. Stair Vault (228)
Within a building technology which uses compressive materials as much as possible, and excludes the use of wood, it is natural to build stairs over a vaulted void, simply to save weight and materials.
Therefore: Build a curved diagonal vault in the same way that you build your floor-ceiling vaults. Once the vault hardens, cover it with steps of lightweight concrete, trowel-formed into position.
172. Utility Services (229)
Most utility services are embedded within walls and are impossible to maintain or improve without destroying the structure.
Therefore: Make the utility services such as electrical, phone, cable TV, fiber optics, security electronics, teletext, plumbing, gas, HVAC, and future services into an accessible channel or duct in the flooring of each room. Build outlets as necessary which bring the needed service into to room.
173. Radiant Heat (230)
People are most comfortable when heated by radiant heat. Hot air systems generally strip away the negative ions which promote health.
Therefore: Choose a system of space heating which employs primarily radiant heat, and that uses a low grade heat source such as solar rather than electricity so that the system is efficient and conserves high grade resources. Preference should be given to systems which use the floor itself as the radiator.
174. Roof Ornaments (232)
A building does not feel visually complete without a crowning ornament to give it final a touch.
Therefore: Choose a natural way to embellish the roof in keeping with the kind of construction and purpose of the building. Let the main function be to connect the building with the sky and universe.
175. Floor Surface Variety (233)
We want the floor to be comfortable, warm to the touch, inviting; but we also want it to be hard enough to resist wear and easy to clean. No single material can do both.
Therefore: Zone the house, or building, into two kinds of zones: public zones, and private or more intimate zones. Use hard materials like waxed, red polished concrete, tiles, or hardwood in the public zones. In the more intimate zones, use soft materials like felt, rubber carpet backing, or straw matting which are then covered with wool carpeting, cloths, pillows, or tapestries. Make a clearly marked edge between the two--perhaps even a step--so that people can take their shoes off when they pass from the public to the intimate.
176. Soft Inside Walls (235)
A wall which is too hard or too cold or too solid is unpleasant to touch; it makes decoration impossible, and creates hollow echoes.
Therefore: Make every inside surface warm to the touch, soft enough to take small nails and tacks, and with a certain slight "give" to the touch. Soft plaster is very good; textile hangings, canework, weavings, also have this character. Also wood is fine but it is expensive.
177. Wide Open Windows (236)
Many buildings nowadays have no opening windows at all; and many of the opening windows that people do build, don't do the job that opening windows ought to do.
Therefore: Decide which of the windows will be opening windows. Pick those which are easy to get to. Choose the ones which open onto flowers you want to smell, paths where you might want to talk to passers by, and which face natural breezes. Then put in side-hung casements that open outward. Here and there, go all the way and build full French windows.
178. Filtered Light (238)
Light filtered through leaves, vines, lattices, or tracery is wonderful.
Therefore: Where the edge of a window or the overhanging eave of a roof is silhouetted against the sky, make a rich, detailed tapestry of light and dark, to break up the light and soften it.
179. Small Panes (239)
When plate glass windows became possible, people thought that they would put us more directly in touch with nature. In fact, they do the opposite.
Therefore: Divide each window into small panes. These panes can be very small indeed, and should hardly ever be more than a foot square. To get the exact size of the panes, divide the width and height of the window by the number of panes. Then each window will have different sized panes according to its height and width.
180. Ornamental Trim (240)
Totalitarian, manufactured buildings do not require trim because they are precise enough to do without. But they buy their precision at a dreadful price by killing the possibility of freedom and beauty in the building plan.
Therefore: Wherever two materials meet, place ornamental trim over the edge of the connection. Choose the trim so that the smallest width is on the order of of 1/2 inch wide. The trim can be wood, plaster, terracota...
XVI. Outdoor Finishing
181. Seat Spots (241)
Where outdoor seats are set down without regard for view and climate, they will almost certainly be useless. Choosing good spots for outdoor seats is far more important than building fancy benches. Indeed, if the spot is right, the most simple kind of seat is perfect.
Therefore: In cool climates, choose them to face the sun, and to be protected from the wind; in hot climates, put them in shade and open to summer breezes. In both cases, place them to face activities.
182. Benches and Sitting Walls (243
In many places walls and fences between outdoor spaces are too high; but no boundary at all does injustice to the subtlety of the divisions between the spaces.
Therefore: Surround any natural outdoor area, and make minor boundaries between outdoor areas with low walls, about 16 inches high, and wide enough to sit on, at least 12 inches wide. Where appropriate add a back to make a full bench, this is especially nice at a front entrance.
183. Outdoor Fabrics (244)
There is a special beauty about outdoor fabrics which creates a softness, a suppleness, which is in harmony with wind, light, and sun. Houses or buildings embellished with flags, buntings, and awnings will touch all of nature more fully and create greater delight than if made only with hard conventional materials.
Therefore: Build canvas or other fabric roofs, walls, awnings, flags, and buntings wherever there are spaces which need softer light or partial shade in summer, or partial protection from mist and dew in autumn and winter. Build them to fold or hide away when not needed.
184. Raised Flowers (245)
Flowers are beautiful along the edges of paths, buildings, outdoor rooms--but it is just in these places that they need the most protection from traffic. Without some protection they cannot easily survive.
Therefore: Soften the edges of buildings, paths, and outdoor areas with flowers. Raise the flower beds so that people can touch the flowers, bend to smell them, and sit by them. And build the flower beds with solid edges, so that people can sit on them to enjoy the flowers.
185. Climbing Plants (246)
A building finally becomes a part of its surroundings when the plants grow over parts of it as freely as they grow along the ground.
Therefore: On sunny walls, train climbing plants to grow up round the openings in the wall--the windows, doors, porches, arcades, and trellises.
186. Paving with 1 Inch Cracks (247)
Asphalt and concrete surfaces outdoor are easy to wash down, but they do nothing for us, nothing for the paths, and nothing for the rainwater and plants.
Therefore: On paths and terraces, lay paving stones with a 1 inch crack between the stones, so that grass, mosses, and small flowers can grow between the stones. Lay the stones directly into earth, not into mortar, and, of course, use no cement or mortar between the stones.
187. Exterior Decoration (249)
All people have the instinct to decorate their surroundings.
Therefore: Search around the building, and find those edges and transitions which need emphasis or extra binding energy. Corners, places where materials meet, door frames, windows, main entrances, the place where wall meets another, the garden gate, a fence--all these are natural places which call out for ornament. Now find simple themes and apply the elements of the theme over and again to the edges and boundaries which you decide to mark. Make the ornaments work as seams along the boundaries and edges so that they knit the two sides together and make them one.
188. Warm Colors (250)
The greens and greys of hospitals and office corridors are depressing and cold. Natural wood, sunlight, bright colors are warm. In some way, the warmth of the colors in a room makes a great deal of difference between comfort and discomfort.
Therefore: Choose surface colors which, together with the color of natural light, reflected light, and artificial lights, create a warm light in the rooms. The best colors will be shades or combinations of reds, oranges, and yellows.
189. Indoor Seating Variety (251)
People are different sizes, they sit in different ways; and yet there is a tendency in modern times to make all chairs alike.
Therefore: Never furnish any place with chairs that are identical. Choose a variety of different chairs, some big, some small, some softer than other, some rockers, some very old, some new, with arms, without arms, some wicker, some wood, some cloth.
190. Pools of light (252)
Uniform illumination--the sweetheart of the lighting engineers serves no useful purpose whatsoever. In fact, it destroys the social nature of space and makes people feel disoriented and disconnected.
Therefore: Place the lights low and apart, to form individual pools of light which encompass chairs and tables like bubbles. This helps reinforce the social character of the spaces which they form. Remember that you can't have pools of light without the darker places in between.
191. Things From Your Life (253)
"Decor" and the conception of "interior design" have spread so widely, that very often people forget to display the things they really want to keep around them.
Therefore: Do not be tricked into believing that modern decor must be slick, "natural", "modern art", "plants", or anything else that current tast-makers claim. It is most beautiful when it comes straight from your life--things you care for, things you enjoy.
192. Charming Additions
Many charming and wonderful ingredients are left out of contemporary housing. They are not expensive, but require a sensitivity that most contractors don't have. They are not "off the shelf" items.
Therefore: Use the following as a check list:
- Fountains & Pools
- Patios, Courtyards, Porches
- Stepping Stones
- Outdoor Seating
- Relief Ornamentation
- Arches & Monuments
- Small Outdoor Lights
- Pillows & Cushions
- Drapes and Lace
- Beaded Dividers
- Indoor Plants
- Cozy Spaces
- Indoor Sculpture
- Soft Lighting
- Moveable Dividers
- Plants & Flowers
- Fountains & Pools
- Indoor Ornamentation
- Indoor/Outdoor Transitions--French Doors, Shoji Screens, etc.
- Public Gathering Places
- Everything listed under "Outdoors" above
XVII. Saving the Environment
198. Pollution Free Environment
Pesticides, insecticides, man-made chemicals of all sorts do lasting damage to the environment and make it dangerous for human life as well. There is abundant evidence to indicate that many diseases such as cancer result from the cumulative exposure to a large number of low-level irritants.
Therefore: Avoid using all chemical poisons. Also avoid using artificial building materials many of which contain low-level toxic chemicals such as formaldehyde.
199. Energy from the Sun
High grade forms of energy such as electricity should be used only where they cannot be replaced by lower grade forms of energy. Space heating and hot water heating--the two most extensive uses of energy--can best be fulfulled by solar energy.
Therefore: Build in such a way as to make use of solar energy for all heating needs. As the technology develops, electricity may also be derived from the sun. Encourage local building practices which promote solar energy.
200. Minimizing Wastes
Americans have become a "throw away" society. As inexpensive energy resources are depleted it becomes more costly to support the throw away habit.
Therefore: Avoid the slick propoganda of advertisers to consume more flashy, packaged goods. Buy simple goods in bulk. Buy quality goods that will last and that can be repaired.
201. Outdoor Sounds and Silence
One only needs to spend a few minutes in the country to realize how we are being constantly bombarded by noise, especially from autos and air conditioning compressors.
Therefore: Support ordinances and design practices which limit automobile travel into places which benefit from silence. Residential areas should be surrounded rather than penetrated by roads which carry automobiles. If due to faulty construction, air conditioning equipment is actually needed, require that it be silent.
202. Private Outdoor Space
Everyone desires outdoor space not shared with others which is secure. Space where one may suntan or otherwise commune with nature without the feeling of being scrutinized or on public display.
Therefore: Ensure that each dwelling has an open courtyard, large enough for the occupants which is not visible by the inhabitants and in which a person can go to be outdoors free from intrusion.
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Last update: 9/26/96