Pattern Language

Considered by many as ‘The Builder’s Bible’ this book contains very important studies on what human beings love and shows how to map and engage.  It is a timeless sourcebook of practical considerations for building and living. All 253 patterns form a language. They create a coherent picture of an entire region, with infinite variety in all the details. We show some key excerpts here:

Sacred Sites

People cannot maintain their spiritual roots and their connections to the past if the physical world they live in does not also sustain these roots.

We believe that the best way to intensify a site is through a progression of areas which people pass through as they approach the site; this is the principle of “nested precincts”.

Nested Precincts

A garden that can only be reached through a series of outer gardens keeps its secrecy. The great beauty of a riverbank – its rushes, water rats, small fish, wild flowers – are violated by a too direct approach (even the ecology cannot stand up to the too direct approach).

We must therefore build around a sacred site a series of spaces which gradually intensify and converge on the site; the site itself becomes an inner sanctum at the core.


The courtyards built in modern buildings are very often dead. They are intended to be private open spaces, but they end up unused, full of gravel and abstract sculptures.

Courtyards which are pleasant to be in always seem to have “loopholes” which allow you to see beyond them into some further, larger space beyond; strong connections to other spaces have access freedom.

Roof Gardens

A vast part of the earth’s surface, in a town, consists of roofs. Couple this with the fact that a total area of a town which can be exposed to the sun is finite, and you will realize that it is natural, and indeed essential to make roofs which take advantage of the sun and air.


Arcades – 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. They create an ambiguous territory between the public world and the private world, and so make buildings friendly.

This is a great book and is full of things we should all know. There are some notable activities humans love, and we’ll close out ‘A Pattern Language’ with a few of them:

People do not like to be seen going into a bathroom. They love watching fires. They love watching other people from a hidden high place, knowing they cannot be seen by others. They love space when they need it, but they love the comfort of a small space also. Looking at a naked bulb, or unobscured light is bad for the eyes.

A gathering rooftop opens up a sense of wonder and fascination with the sky during daytime and nighttime.

Using sites and structures that reflect the very nature of where we are, who we are, and why we are, Moonshadow Ventures acquires property and builds in Puget Sound’s ancient woodlands.

Learn More