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A New Feature - Selected Patterns From Our New Book!

Developed in collaboration with UN-Habitat and other partners, the book offers innovative as well as time-honored patterns for making livable cities and towns.

The cover of the new book.

IMCL Executive Director Michael Mehaffy is lead author of an exciting new print and electronic publication developed in partnership with UN-Habitat and KTH Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm, where he is Senior Researcher at the Centre for the Future of Places. The book is titled A New Pattern Language for Growing Regions: Places, Networks, Processes, and it incorporates many of the patterns for livable cities that the IMCL and our attendees have discussed for many years - walkable streets, parks and squares, good transit and ways to get around, a mix of uses, and many other patterns for livable cities and towns.

The book is an extension of the landmark work A Pattern Language: Towns, Buildings, Construction, by Christopher Alexander and associates. That work first introduced the concept of a pattern as a relational design element within a web-network of other patterns, as a tool for designing in a more contextual, responsive way. A "pattern language" is a set of patterns that work together as a whole, much like the language of poetry or literature. Alexander's great insight was to understand that this is the way the best human environments have worked over centuries. Pattern language methodology has since been extended to many other domains, including software, where they inspired the creation of design patterns, wiki, Agile, and other innovations.

Wiki inventor Ward Cunningham (left) joins IMCL director Michael Mehaffy for the book launch event at the World Urban Forum in February 2020.

The book by Michael Mehaffy and colleagues grew out of the long collaboration between the Centre for the Future of Places, UN-Habitat, and other research centers, and it incorporates many of the livable patterns that have been identified by a large network of researchers. Each pattern cites peer-reviewed research as well as established best practice ideas.

To highlight the book, this week we're starting a new feature, sampling patterns from the book as well as the companion wiki site ( This section features street patterns; other sections of the book include pubic space patterns, regional planning patterns, building edge patterns, and much more. There are also sections with patterns that provide tools and strategies for implementation. All of these can be edited, added to, and distributed, through the wiki site. (The wiki is currently read-only but will become editable in the coming months.)

This week's selection looks at four street patterns:

  • Urban Greenway, a beautiful green corridor with walking, biking, cars and transit, using Vienna's Ringstrasse as an exemplar;

  • Multi-Way Boulevard, a great solution to allow mobility for cars, without sacrificing walkability or bikability;

  • Avenue, the most straightforward kind of street, but requiring careful planning to remain pedestrian-friendly;

  • Shared Space Lane, the quiet residential streets where kids can be safe but cars and other vehicles can still have the access they need.

You can download the entire book, or get ordering information for paper copies, at We hope you will enjoy this contribution!

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