By Christopher Alexander. Original post here.

Each family, sometimes each street or city block, each neighborhood, each region, each culture, each nation, each island, each climatic zone, each ecological region, has its own specific traditions. Above a Guatemalan kind of house painting. Below, a Mariachi band in Mexico.

Some of these traditions are of a practical nature; other are historical or sentimental; some are caused by local plants and materials; others by a particular pattern of rainfall; others are simply based on “the way” that things are done.

In order to make a generative code fit a particular place or culture, it is wise to introduce specific patterns in the following categories:

  • family types
  • acceptable density
  • size of rooms
  • typical type of entrance
  • typical type of rooms for gathering
  • position of windows
  • roof shape
  • nearby materials and local materials


Once you have identified the patterns which make people comfortable, in these aspects of their neighborhoods and buildings, it will not be too difficult to translate each pattern, into an unfolding: that is, into an action which occurs at a specific time in the overall sequence of layout processes, that will assure the introduction of the necessary pattern into that environment.

If you follow these rules, it will give the place you are making, an altogether different and more personal character.


  • Follow the rules written down above, exactly as they are written

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