Settlements of any size and type can always be formally synthesized by their patterns, so it means pattern identify the settlements. Town houses in gridiron blocks, high-rise office structures, academic campuses, suburban estates, and highway retail sprawl are good examples. Urban form, then, is a result of the bringing together of many elements in a composite totality:the urban pattern.
Patterns are the outstanding formal features of urban areas. A pattern can be defined as an elaboration of form that results from a composition of parts. Thus, patterns assume complex characteristics based on their formal elaboration; they also assume some degree of universality, since the total pattern can be represented by a sector. For example, an identifiable area in a city, or village can be best understood through a typical sector showing circulation, buildings, and open spaces; this typical sector ‘represents’ the formal characteristics found throughout the area and thus acquires some ‘universality.’ Patterns have the potential of carrying powerful formal syntheses or visual codes over a geographic space.
Formally, cities have a greater similarity to rugs and carpets than to other design products, with intricate motifs covering thier surfaces and various combinations of patterns complementing one another.
Patterns are the physical expression of an underlying, continous formal system. Their visual essence lies in the complexity of a number of interrelated motifs, rather than in the total composition, since patterns are fragments or parts of a continuum and not totalities. Patterns can be conceptualized as models of field designs that can be extended over geographic space. They are reflecting the impact of a society on the earth, through the imposition of their cultural artifacts of shelter and movement.
Clearly, urban patterns do change from one sector of a city to another, according to location in the city and time of development. The commercial high-rise pattern of down-town merges with the dense residential pattern of town houses-two patterns resulting from different land uses and accessibility at different locations. The tight pattern that originated in preautomobile times contrasts with the open pattern typical of the automobile era-two patterns resulting from two periods of development. In this way, an urban area is truly a tapestry of patterns, each corresponding to specific morphological factors-location, technology, culture, and so on.
Furthermore, patterns tend not to reflect the will of a single designer, but rather composite wills-like the inherited wills involved in the traditional design of carpets or the pluralistic wills that have shaped so many human habitats. Indeed, patterns are true community forms.
How is one to gain an initial formal understanding of urban patterns? Quite often, complex forms can first be grasped through the identification of their range of formal outcomes.
Let us identify the ‘formal extremes’ that patterns can take, which we shall call dualities because they tend to appear as nominal opposites. Urban patterns, complex community forms that they are, can be conceptually understood through a series of dualities. The world is full of dualities.
I have selected three dualities for examination here, not only for their descriptive duality, but because of their operational value for designers :unbuilt space versus built form, continuous events versus discrete events, and repetitive elements versus unique elements.
Unbuilt space-built form duality
This duality recognizes that urban patterns integrate built structures enclosing space for some use together with unbuilt areas used as open space or circulation. It provides the basic gestalt of urban areas, with figure-and-background images. Spatial concepts and definitions, environmental qualities, microclimate and health conditions, and other aspects of urban...