UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

An evaluation of patterns : a study of the out-of-house patterns of the Acadia Park clusters (University of British Columbia) Puni, Krishan Parkash


In his recent publications Christopher Alexander and his colleagues are mainly concerned with the description of what they call patterns. In 'A Pattern Language Which Generates Multi-Service Centers', these authors have stated that such patterns are tentative and based on much conjecture. They suggest that they need criticism and improvement. The authors further point out that these patterns do not establish an exact geometry of relationship to one another as they are studied and described in isolation. Thus the interrelationship between patterns and their geometry may vary from place to place. This thesis is an evaluation of such patterns, and therefore can be seen as an extension of the design method initiated by Christopher Alexander and the Center for Environmental Structure. The author believes that when patterns (the component parts of which are pre-designed to prevent specific conflicting tendencies from occurring) are combined to form a cohesive whole, they may not fulfil the purpose for which they were initially designed. The Acadia Park Clusters, the housing for married students at the University of British Columbia Campus was selected for the evaluation of patterns. The thesis looks at the out-of-house patterns of this project. Since this project was designed in the conventional architectural way and not according to the Pattern Language Method, an inventory of out-of-house patterns had at first to be abstracted from the design elements. The anticipated behavior of users relevant to these patterns was then posited. These positions became the hypotheses on which the created inventory of patterns was evaluated. The author has gathered this data empirically by recording over a period of three weeks the activities of the participants and their characteristics in their natural settings. The data shows that certain patterns fail to achieve their initial purpose when combined to form a cohesive whole. The study also points out that the physical arrangement of one pattern to another influences the intensity of use. It also suggests that when two patterns overlap, new tendencies develop. This study confirms the importance of evaluating patterns after they are combined to form a cohesive whole. It proves that this is necessary for their improvement and for the design of new patterns. If this sort of follow-up does not become a natural part of the design process, a communication breakdown between architect and user is bound to occur.

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