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M. Janik, A. Bugno-Janik

Silesian University of Technology (POLAND)
Urban space is a complex phenomenon, with many layers of interlocking aspects composing system of space functionality, symbolic and historical meaning, aesthetics, technical facilities etc. There is not so many research tools for pre-design studies of urban space which can help to understand, diagnose and define problems in such complex systems in simple and clear manner yet still preserving complexity. Every existing urban situation, which is perceived as non satisfactory, is unique and need different design solutions. A typical approach to evaluation of urban or architecural space problems “explode” system complexity into separate aspects and concentrate on its properties (e.g. aesthetics separated from functionality), which can further results in formulating design solution not addressing real cause of existing problems.

According to Christopher Alexander’s concept of “Pattern language” the underlying quality of urban space, which makes it alive, can be observed in specific space organisation patterns, which are fundamental “units” of complex system of the city.

The problem for the presented research study was defined as “non alive University campus space”. One of the main objectives of the study was to evaluate the campus space potential for re-design to enable user’s activities to make it alive. In this text we want to present one part of our research focused on potential for re-design of campus space. We decided to explore the possibility of using Alexander’s patterns language as a base tool for evaluation of existing space potential, although it is perceived rather as a set of indications for design. The students involved in this research project were learning new skills ranging from research methodology (constructing research tool based on Alexander’s theory) to research conducting and formulating conclusions and re-design indications.

The combined outcomes of the whole study were interesting because of our trial to preserve complex character of space system during its conceptualisation. Students have identified several underlying problems of campus space which were not recognized with prior intuitive insights or with typically performed evaluations.

Using pattern language based tool students have identified several possibilities of re-design of some places in the campus. The tool itself, developed for this part of the research, can be used in the similar research situations in future.