Clever bracing; goes all the way to the feet of the columns.

An Understanding of…

It was a revelation to understand that the ‘soffit’ is really a parallel ceiling - in a structural sense that is… so if ceiling/roof joists provide the ceiling and roof structure resting perpendicular to a ‘beam’ plane, so too should the soffit ‘on the same plane’ as the roof.

Alternatively, if one really has to work counter to the pattern that is the plane - then we’re talking about ‘another structure.’ 

This is the ‘logic’ of the piece - and it establishes how one would go about a project like this next time - that the ‘wall’ planes can be parallel and they share the same perpendicular ceiling structural members.

It also means that the box is broken indeed - because ‘structurally’ the elements are not box-like at all, but skeletal in fresh way… recognising the parallelism that is inherent in construction technique.

Peter Stutchbury 1992. Israel House. Paradise Beach, NSW, Australia.

Pool House by TongTong studio.

“We are all of us capable of doing harm to other people by simple treating them, or our transactions, as something machine-like.”

Christopher Alexander

Christopher Alexander: A Pattern Language


Between my finger and my thumb
The squat pen rests; snug as a gun.

Under my window, a clean rasping sound
When the spade sinks into gravelly ground:
My father, digging. I look down

Till his straining rump among the flowerbeds
Bends low, comes up twenty years away
Stooping in rhythm through potato drills
Where he was digging.

The coarse boot nestled on the lug, the shaft
Against the inside knee was levered firmly.
He rooted out tall tops, buried the bright edge deep
To scatter new potatoes that we picked,
Loving their cool hardness in our hands.

By God, the old man could handle a spade.
Just like his old man.

My grandfather cut more turf in a day
Than any other man on Toner’s bog.
Once I carried him milk in a bottle
Corked sloppily with paper. He straightened up
To drink it, then fell to right away
Nicking and slicing neatly, heaving sods
Over his shoulder, going down and down
For the good turf. Digging.

The cold smell of potato mould, the squelch and slap
Of soggy peat, the curt cuts of an edge
Through living roots awaken in my head.
But I’ve no spade to follow men like them.

Between my finger and my thumb
The squat pen rests.
I’ll dig with it.

— Seamus Heaney

Gradual Stiffening as a Philosophy of Action

'A Pattern Language' can inspire on most pages, yet here I am struck by the beautiful simplicity of the maxim under pattern 208, that 'the process of gradual stiffening [in the building and selection of materials of a structure]… is the physical and procedural embodiment of this essential principle.' What principle is that? That 'details are fitted to the whole.'

Now this echoes all over the darkness of my mind - it could as easily provide a way to think about the curriculum, the fluidity and questioning that precedes the more detailed expository ‘stiffening’ of an idea. It could more or less embrace the ‘start with why’ model, which essentially ensures that our actions don’t spring from the trap of detail or secondary concerns, but represent the natural unfolding of a whole. There is freedom in this - a freedom of action that is profound, and I can begin now to understand the sense of gravity with which the writers of ‘A Pattern Language’ articulate their material.