The Kubala Washatko Architects, Inc.
W61 N617 Mequon Ave, Cedarburg, WI 53012 | p: 262.377.6039
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March 22, 2011

Alternating Repetition

Door - Akka, Israel. Image by Tom Kubala.

“One of the ways that centers help each other most effectively is by their repetition. Centers intensify other centers by repeating. The rhythm of the repeating center, slowly, like the beat of a drum, intensifies the field effect.”

Christopher Alexander, p. 165, Book One, The Nature of Order

The recurrence of ‘bolt heads’ on this door in the old city of Akka, Israel speaks powerfully to how an alternating repetition does a better job of knitting space together than does a simple repetition. The life and vitality produced by this kind of repetition can be traced to the weaving together of two parallel lines of bolts, one line twice the density of the other, one above the seam, one below it.

Just like a syncopated beat in music can induce a person to tap a toe or even start dancing, this door of repeated elements produces a visual rhythm that gives the same kind of ‘jump’ to visual space, rendering it as animated, full of life.

Imagine this same door with bolt heads arranged in a square grid pattern. Can one honestly say that such a pattern would be more alive, more whole than the one pictured?

“Why is alternating repetition more satisfying, more profound, than simple repetition? One answer lies, once again, in the recursiveness of the rule. For what repeats within a whole is not merely the units. In a whole, the space between the units also repeats. And often even the repetition itself repeats. Thus the rule about the repetition applies to all the elements within the whole. When we apply it to all the elements, to the entities, to the spaces between the entities, and even to the sequences of repeating entities themselves, then there is wholeness as a result.”
Christopher Alexander, p. 170, Book One, The Nature of Order

One Response to Alternating Repetition

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