Christopher Alexander has been on my mind lately. My company just moved locations, and improved its environment a thousand-fold. Everywhere I look I see examples of densely interconnected living patterns, and it has exactly the effect on me Alexander describes. I feel more alive here.
Yesteday, entering the studio space it occurred to me how different it is to work with patterns when one is a participant in the effect of the pattern. With Alexander’s patterns, the self is always inside and an intrinsic participant in what is happening. This is entirely different from how design patterns are employed in an engineering context. The formal aspects are retained, but the kernel of the problem that moved Alexander is entirely absent. You could say the problem got flipped inside-out, and in the process was transformed from a uniquely existentialist approach to design to a far more mundane system for organizing puzzle-solving heuristics.