Pattern Language of Natural Homes No.180 Window Place.


This is a series of articles about A Pattern Language by Christopher Alexander where we illustrate and discuss the patterns using homes and buildings made from natural materials like stone, clay, wood and straw. These materials are themselves one of the patterns, namely No.207 'Good (natural) Materials'. As with Alexander's book you will find links to other patterns the pictures illustrate. At first not all patterns will be linked to other articles but to illustrations of the patterns on our facebook album 'A Pattern Language of Natural Homes' which is also available as a widget for your blog or website. Enjoy the creativity of natural builders past and present and admire the architectural observations of Alexander.


Cob Bay Window by Michael "Meka" Bunch


There is no doubt that this type of window seat, with low sills and inviting cushions, does more than just provide a place to sit; it touches something deeper in our sense of place and belonging. Window places like these connect us with the spaces outside the home allowing us to watch the world go by or nature change its colours. These places in the home are not luxuries but rather necessities. As Alexander says, "A room which does not have a place like this seldom allows you to feel fully comfortable or perfectly at ease." 


Straw Bale Window Seat by Quiet Earth


Alexander describes four types of the window place. The bay window, a window seat, a low sill and the glazed alcove. These, he recommends, should be designed in to any room in the home where you will spend any length of time during the day.

The bay window lends itself to sculptural cob homes, that's homes build with clay, sand and straw. Above is an example from one of the homes built by Michael "Meka" Bunch of Artisan Builders Collective. A bay window is a shallow bulge in the room with windows wrapped around it. The bay window provides a greater intensity of light with wide views of the outside.  

Left is the window seat in Rachel's straw bale home in Wales at Quiet Earth. A window seat is a more modest window place, basically a niche in the thick walls [Pattern No.197] of the home. Generally cats and dogs have a habit of finding the best place to sit.


Cob Low Sill by Cob Cottage


The most modest of the window places is the low sill. The correct height for such a window place where you can draw up a chair to enjoy the view is 12-14 inches, about 30-35cm. The sense of enclosure is not derived from the window but rather the chair which ideally will have a high back and arm rests.

The picture left is of the living room in Ianto and Linda's cob home in Coquille, OR, USA. Ianto and Linda run Cob Cottage Company and have taught cob building to hundreds of people over the years. They are the authors of 'The Hand Sculpted-House' which deals with many of the patterns from A Pattern Language.

If you are building a natural home this book is a 'must have' for your collection.


Straw Bale Glazed Alcove by Simon Dale


The most elaborate of the window places is the glazed alcove. Almost like a conservatory making a strong connection between the home and the world outside.

The picture left is Simon Dale's straw bale home at Lammas ecoVillage in Wales. Simon has designed the home to connect the living room with the greenhouse where he and Jasmine grow food for their young family.

Any window can become an inviting window space as long as the window is designed as a place to sit, to be, rather than just a hole in the wall.