Common Land


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Without common land no social system can survive.


Give over 25 per cent of the land in house clusters to common land which touches, or is very very near, the homes which share it. Basic: be wary of the automobile; on no account let it dominate this land.

This pattern originally appeared in "A Pattern Language", the work that inspired this website and much of the work within it. The original book is by Christopher Alexander, Sara Ishikawa, Murray Silverstein with Max Jacobson, Ingrid Fishdahl-King, and Shlomo Angel.

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A Pattern Language

4 Comments to “Common Land”

  1. yodanr

    This is in fact a universal pattern (as can be seen from the multitude of scales it relates to).

  2. Lev Israel

    Good stuff. Calls out a current limitation – “universal” is seen by the software as another level of scale, whereas it should be seen as “all scales”. A search for neighborhood patterns should bring up Universal patterns as well. For now, I’ll add it in among the others…

  3. Matt Schelly

    Not sure if this helps, and I know it says “over 25%,” but I’d like to make sure people don’t set their goals too low by adding that in suburban and (even in politically conservative) rural areas we are often able to get 50% or 60% common land area. This implies to me that different communities will have more or less acceptable thresholds for this. Also, there is a site layout technique called Conservation Subdivision, perfected by the Natural Lands Trust (Randall Arendt is a major advisor) that uses land features and resources to determine the layout of house lots.

  4. yodanr

    It depends how you look at streets, which in an urban setting typically are between 20-30% of the area. If the common land intended here is exclusive of streets, than another 25% brings us to over 50% public land and that’s definitely a lot.
    Matt, can you send a link to this site layout technique?

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