A key element of our design approach is a process we call Pattern Writing. The goal of writing patterns is to gain a deeper understanding of how a building and its environment can be configured to support both human activity and natural processes in a harmonious way.
During the earliest stages of a project, the design team and client work together to develop an extensive list of patterns which will then be used to guide the design process. Identifying these patterns enables both us and our clients to imagine what daily life in an as-yet-designed building might feel like. The process of writing patterns helps us to make more intelligent decisions about how to shape the building, and helps the entire team keep important aspects of the project at the forefront.
What are Patterns?
A Pattern is a well understood relationship between a human activity that occurs over and over again and the geometry of the physical environment best suited to enhance that activity. Writing patterns is a way to identify the deeper spiritual and emotional values inherent in a place.
When designing a building, the architect and client must work together to solve many problems about how to organize space. A pattern concisely documents a single problem or issue along with a best possible solution. Patterns address issues at all levels of scale, from larger regional issues (such as the relationship of the building and site to the surrounding neighborhood) down to small scale activities within a building (such as the interaction of a first time visitor with the reception desk). In its simplest form, each pattern consists of a name, a number, an Issue Statement and a Solution Statement. Often, diagrams and photos are added to illustrate the pattern’s implementation.
Why Are Patterns Useful?
The advantage of patterns is that they do not rely on the specialized language of the architect. They communicate information in very clear and simple language that is easily understood by a broad variety of people. A by-product of this clarity is that it helps gain consensus among all stakeholders when specific actions are required.
- Patterns integrate human activity with building design
- Patterns redirect attention from style and back toward human behavior
- Patterns offer a method for seeing and understanding an environment at a deeper level
- Patterns take the mystery out of design and provide an explanation for why things are done a certain way
- Patterns document design decisions and rationale
Pattern Writing has been successfully used on many TKWA projects, including the LEED Platinum-rated Leopold Legacy Center, the LEED Gold-rated addition to Frank Lloyd Wright’s First Unitarian Meeting House, the LEED Gold-rated Schlitz Audubon Nature Center, and several other projects both large and small.