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4.3 Urban pattern

The pattern of the city is the way how different functions and elements of the settlement form are distributed and mixed together spatially. It can be measured by the size of its grain. Grain is fine when similar elements or functions are widely dispersed throughout the district without forming any large clusters. On the other hand, grain is coarse if different elements and functions are segregated from each other in a way that extensive areas of one thing are separated from extensive areas of other things (Lynch 1981: 265).

Christopher Alexander (1979) has developed a theory on the 'timeless way of building'. He states that patterns are a linguistic system and calls this system 'a pattern language'. According to him, 'A pattern language is a system which allows its users to create an infinite variety of those three dimensional combinations of patterns which we call buildings, gardens, towns' (Alexander 1979: 186). Alexander maintains that there is an objective difference between good and bad buildings, or good and bad towns. He says that it is analogical to the difference between health and sickness, or to that of wholeness and dividedness. The difference is caused by an objective quality: 'the quality without a name'. This quality is caught in one way of building--the one which has always existed. The pattern language is developed to grasp the grammar of it (Alexander 1979: 10, 25).

Alexander has studied the individual patterns of pattern language with Sara Ishikawa, Murray Silverstein, Max Jacobson, Ingrid Fiksdahl-King and Shlomo Angel (Alexander et al. 1977). According to them, the language they present is not theoretical but extremely practical (Alexander et al. 1977: x). They introduce 253 different patterns that start from the 'independent regions' and 'the distribution of towns' and end at 'ornament', 'different chairs' and 'things from your life'. The spatial scale varies thus from the regional level to the scale of one room inside a building. Patterns from 8 to 94 are meant to be used for describing the elements of cities. The patterns from 95 to 126 describe the elements of smaller communities inside the cities. These two sets include the patterns that are relevant in the scale of this study.

Anne Stenros (1992: 69), however, finds some difficulties in Alexander's theory. According to her the theory is fragmentary and fails to find connections between the places. Moreover, she says that Alexander has not succeeded in the abstraction of patterns. The cultural elements are still inherent in the patterns. Alexander's pattern language is, according to Stenros, therefore a combination of aspects from different cultures which makes its 'timelessness' to turn into 'placelessness'.

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