"The more living patterns there are in a place--a room, a building, or a town--the more it comes to life as an entity, the more it glows, the more it has that self-maintaining fire which is the quality without a name."
Christopher Alexander, 1979
An environment's image must include spatial pattern that relates objects within it, relates the environment to the observer, and to other objects in its surrounding community.
Because the environment must be a multi-task environment, serving many clients and many different knowledge tasks at once, and because different tasks have different spatial, emotional and tooling requirements, the environment is designed to be both flexible and to be divided into specialized zones. Within each zone, there are may different sub-areas, each with its own use and feel. In addition, many of these zones can expand and contract, thus, they can be configured to be larger or smaller, to be part of or totally separate from each other as the work demands.
Several principles and design goals drive the basic layout of an environment: it must exhibit an architectural grammar and geometry appropriate to its specific mission and fit within the grammar and style of its location; it must control its boundaries in terms of access, light, sound, sight lines, and it must do this without presenting a defensive posture. It must do this without isolating itself from the surrounding area, while still giving visual and visceral notice that it is radically different here than in the regular workplace. The environment must include spatial ambiguity, the high variety that creates interest. It must include sheltered places for quit reflection as well as open spaces for collaboration and expansive thinking. Paths, boundaries, regions, nodes and landmarks add variety, flexibility, build relationships and communication and facilitate feedback and change.
our environments each of these factors is exhibited in a flexible way,
allowing frequent, meaningful change within a solid, timeless armature.
The environment includes a number of specialized regions or nodes:
"Every pattern is a rule of transformation. The fact that every pattern is a rule of transformation means that each pattern has the power to transform any configuration by injecting a new configuration into it, without essentially disturbing any essentials of the configuration which was there before."
Christopher Alexander, 1972
Entries provide a smooth transition and continuity of experience from the surrounding world to the workplace. They signal something different--something new and exciting and filled with possiblities. Our transition areas indicate that something unusual is about to happen--the shape of the space, its ceiling height, the partial views of thing happening beyond it provides a certain amount of drama and tension. While still placed in time and space, the other world out there is now sufficiently remote, so you and your cohorts can focus on issues and be away, as if off site. The grammar of the interior components of the environment is distinct from the grammar used around the external walls. The exterior grammar relates more closely to the surrounding neighborhood. The interior grammar can be lighter, so that it can draw its references from artists' lots, drafting rooms, music studios, or theaters. The design method is one of contrast. On form recalls the past, while the other looks to the future.
"If a strong core exists to tie a place together, then a great deal of complex, eclectic architectural elements are not only possible but desirable. In this way, many niches are created that allow for unique architectural responses to unique practical and human requirements. An armature is the integrative, and often, historical element that creates place and integration of the diverse aspects of an environment. This is a way of designing a building that is not short lived. An armature is neither a literal resurrection from the past not a projection into a science-fiction future. It is the built form of a process continually happening in the present. An armature can transform and incorporate elements from past architecture if these have meaning for local people. An armature can accept current styles or even futuristic additions if desired but the basic framework is always in the present because it is always being built."
Herb and Nanine Greene, 1981
The site is a unique constellation of opportunities, constraints, dreams
and history. In our complex spaces, the structural system is expressed
as one of the main design features. The armature is a unique architectural
statement--a statement derived from its own function. It provides
the strength, the power, within which the many activities drive their life.
Within this armature as a unifying element, there are many spaces with
their own specific character based on their own specific activities.
All of his provides a sense of visual and living diversity within a strong,
Introduction: Integrating Philosophy, Art, Engineering, Craftsmanship, and Business
The New Workplace Philosophy: Environments for the Knowledge Itensive Workplace
The Art of Creating Enduring Environments, Part 1; Meaning, Identity, and Context
Craftsmanship and Engineering: The Keys to Environmental Sustainability