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not it is noticeable, patterns surround us continuously. Pattern shapes everything from cities to objects to

As an architect begins to draft, he generates a set of patterns, rules.

behavior. Some recognize patterns as a set of forms or

These patterns are rooted within the

colours. But there is much more to them than that. “The

design in order to keep a consistent language. All buildings

essence of a pattern is, quite obviously, Repetition…This

have a particular set of patterns, but unfortunately

eliminates words like ‘rhythm’. Repetition, with set

sometimes they are altered or even fully erased upon

variations, covers that situation, and without a distracting

renovations. Once a building starts to deteriorate, common questions start to arise: Do we preserve the building? Reconstruct it? Or do we convert it? Before any of these things can be done, the pattern must first be defined. Once we recognize it, we can then retrace, or re-pattern it in order to preserve the initially conceived language. Repatterning can be utilized as a means to extend the lifecycle of an architectural language. In order to understand re-patterning, we must first look at patterning—the application of pattern. Whether or

musical analogy. Even the ideas of ‘symmetry’ and of ‘balance’ are perfectly easy to describe in terms of repetition and variation” (William 25) Another important formal property of pattern is coverage. The coverage of a pattern is closely related to structure and scale. It is the amount of configuration in a given space which enters into a pattern from its conception (William 30).

Spaces are formed from patterns where

further patterns inhabit them. These inhabited areas vary

theoretical aspects of pattern and their application to

in scale, from micro to macro. The surface covered by the

varying contexts, particularly amongst architecture.

pattern could either be two-dimensional or threedimensional. For instance, a patterned quilt will be perceived differently than a pattern composing the spatial realms of a building, yet in both the use of patterning was evident. Christopher Alexander looks at the formal and

Christopher illustrates how patterning is a vital characteristic in making cities and buildings live. He studies the patterns of humans and adapts them to his architectural language.

“From a sequence of these

individual patterns, whole buildings with the character of nature will form‌ as easily as sentences.� (Alexander Timeless 21) Everyone is capable of generating a pattern language for a building, and once a pattern is established, everything else will fall into its proper place. Christopher explains three rules which express the relation between a certain context, a problem and a solution for patterning. The first rule is to define the physical feature of the place. Secondly, define the problem, or the field of forces which the pattern brings into balance. And finally, define the range on contexts where this system of forces exists and

where this pattern of physical relationships will bring it into

of re-patterning is possible and should be considered at all

balance. (Timeless 247)


Patterning can have various classifications seeing

“To work our way toward a shared and living

as its contexts are infinite. Looking at a more complex,

language once again, we must first learn how to discover

three-dimensional definition of pattern shows its close

patterns which are deep, and capable of generating life.”

relationship to architecture: “The etymology of ‘pattern’ is


from the Latin pater, or patronus, meaning father, patron,

sees re-patterning as an opportunity to revive language. If

god or master, from which derived the notion of pattern as

patterns generate life within architecture, why not

a model, example, matrix, stencil or mould. The

preserve the life by retracing the original patterns? Lewis F



Day consents to the possibility of re-patterning: “Pattern is

distribution, structure or progression, a series or frequency

the natural outgrowth of repetition; and in every case the

of a repeated/repeating unit, system or process of identical

lines of its construction may be traced” (3) Re-patterning

or similar elements. This multiplicity of meanings points to

aids with appropriate adaptation of the new to the old

the manifold roles of pattern in the creation, reproduction,

without disregarding the existing pattern. In architecture,

evolution and processes of space” (Garcia 8) Given that

when adaptive reuse is planned, the original language must

one of the notions of pattern is a stencil, the achievement

be conserved in order for the building to function and live











fruitfully. “A pattern, says the dictionary, is ‘something to

be copied’. Perhaps that is why design is so commonly

architecture house various programmatic functions, such

confounded with appropriation, or at the most with

as residences, stables, garages, it also served as a retaining

adaptation.” (Day 278) The Kubicki Arcades in Warsaw are a good example of architectural re-patterning. This 200 m long building is comprised of a riverside elevation which reveals seven large openings leading into the Arcades. Semi-circular forms






architecture amidst the strict orthogonal grid.

the These

formal pattern qualities help maintain the building’s functional language. The Kubicki Arcades were built between 1818-1827, on an escarpment from the eastern side of the Royal Castle in Warsaw and designed by the classicist architect Jakub Kubicki. He conceived a plan consisting of arcades running along the lower escarpment

wall to the Castle, which was affected by the Wisła River’s flood plain. Monumental stairs in front of the horizontal building presented an opportunity for connection between the newly planned gardens: the upper level atop of the escarpment and the lower level by the River.

of the Castle. This load bearing masonry creation was an

The Arcades are notably encircled with patterns.

essential part of the royal residence. Not only did the

The façade, as well as the interior elevation have a close

relationship to the plan of the building. A particular

and the escarpment was reinforced. Due to a difficult

language was deliberately patterned by the architect.

financial situation, it took almost fifteen years to finalize

Jakub Kubicki is consistent with combining opposites—

the project. “The renovation and adaptation for museum

simple forms with rich materials. He utilizes semicircles,

use of the Arcades which were deteriorating for many

circles and ellipses with rectangular modules. (Majewski

years, means that a very valuable original part of the Royal

61) The architectural language was carefully articulated

Castle has been saved,” said director of Royal Castle in

and is not too overwhelming; it all fits, because it has a

Warsaw Prof. Andrzej Rottermund. The re-patterned

pattern. “When we use the network of a language, we always use it as a sequence, going through the patterns, moving always from the larger patterns to the smaller, always from the ones which create structures, to the ones which then embellish those structures, and then to those which embellish the embellishments” (Alexander Pattern xviii)

Although the Arcades survived World War II, they

Arcades will take on a role of providing a new entrance to

were falling into ruin after many years of neglect and lack

the Castle. This re-patterning of the public flow is rather

of upkeep. It was not until 1995 that renovations began

figurative. One of the most prominent tourist attractions is

the magical promenade through a tunnel which was once

overlap the existing brick flooring, acting as a transparent

the castle’s main sewage system. In addition to this, new

layer of homage to the historical. Additionally, there are

programs will be inserted. Multi-purpose functions: retail

many instances of original fragments of walls and ceilings

(bookstore), cultural (concert hall, museum expositions,

integrated within the contemporary architectural details.

performance space, temporary installations, etc) as well as

Inside the Arcades are vaults—each pertaining to a

gastronomic and informational locales will be programmed

different function. In one of the rooms a reconstructed

into the structure, while picking up on the original

court apartment is present. It was re-patterned into a new location, so that visitors may re-live the architecture in that time.

Re-patterning is an ideal technique for working with adaptive reuse. Identifying the pattern and then retracing it will preserve the language of a building. “As the pattern languages die, everyone can see the chaos which emerges in our towns and buildings. In panic, people language. This architectural re-patterning is visible through

try to replace the lost order of the organic process, by

the treatment of materials in the newly refurbished

artificial forms of order based on control. But this makes

Arcades. In partial areas of the building, glass was used to

this still worse. The variety, once created by organic and

natural processes, disappears altogether. Adaptation of buildings to people becomes impossible.� (Alexander Timeless 237)

REFERENCES Alexander, Christopher. A Pattern Language. New York: Oxford University Press, 1977. Alexander, Christopher. A Timeless Way of building. New York: Oxford University Press, 1979. Day, Lewis F. Pattern Design. London: B T Batsford Limited, 1979 Garcia, Mark. “Patterns of Architecture.” AD 79 (11) (2009) Justema, William. The Pleasures of Pattern. New York: Reinhold Book Corporation, 1968. Jóźwiak, Krzysztof. Do Zamku wejdziemy Arkadami Kubickiego (2009-03-31) Majewski, Jerzy S. “The Kubicki Arcades in Warsaw” Architektura, May 2009, 58-69. Proliński, Maciek,Kubicki+Arc ades+at+the+foot+of+Warsaws+Royal+Castle+are+restored.html Wrede, Marek. Arkady Kubickiego


An essay on the rehabilitation of the Kubicki Arcades in Warsaw for the Sustainability course at Carleton University.