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More selected patterns from our new pattern language book: Four "regional patterns"

Another sampling from the new book developed in collaboration with UN-Habitat and other partners.

By Michael Mehaffy.

Our book A New Pattern Language for Growing Regions: Places, Networks, Processes, 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 of good practice for livable cities and towns.

We've been sampling some of the patterns in this blog, and this time, we focus on four regional patterns that provide healthy networks of transportation, ecological systems, and people and activities. These patterns are the first four in the book, beginning at the largest regional scale.

The book builds on 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.

The book written and edited by Michael Mehaffy and colleagues grew out of a longer collaboration between the Centre for the Future of Places and the Ax:son Johnson Foundation of Stockholm, UN-Habitat, and other research centers. It incorporates many of the livable patterns that have been identified by a large network of researchers, and each pattern cites peer-reviewed research as well as established best practice ideas.

The patterns shown here, as well as others form the book, are also available on the companion wiki site ( 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 of patterns:

  • Polycentric Region, establishes a settlement area, governing the relation of urban areas to their peripheries;

  • Blue-Green Network, adapts a settlement to the terrain, its watershed and vegetation patterns;

  • Mobility Corridor, develops proper high-speed connections between the centers of the region as well as to other regions;

  • 400M Through Street Network, sets a framework that establishes a balance between vehicular mobility and pedestrian safety, while maintaining continuous connectivity of all modes.

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

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