A Vocabulary for Space


Kevin Lynch.  1960.  The Image of the City.  Cambridge, MA:  MIT Press.


Grady Clay.  1973.  Close Up:  How to Read the American City.  NY:  Praeger.

  • Wordgames—We are captured by our words into mistaking the word for the thing
  • Fixes—We are trapped in rigid points of view, like perspective, cross-section, and centrality
  • Epitome Districts—Special places that pack emotion, energy or history into a small space
    • Starts
    • Breaks
    • Venturis
  • Fronts—Zones of change, diversity, and active negotiation for meaning
  • Strips—Zones of convenience lining major paths of travel
  • Beats—Settings for regular, periodic, recurring movement
  • Stacks—High-density mass of materials/energy, concentrated by human effort, which exerts a significant impact on the environment as it shifts to a horizontal distribution pattern.
  • Sinks—Places of last resort into which the powerful shunt/dump whatever they cannot use or do not like.  Usually found in topographically awkward locations which are uninhabitable/undesirable by current bourgeois standards.
  • Turf—territorial space used or occupied by one identity group and thus made inaccessible to others.
    • Screening
    • Screening from small beginnings


Christopher Alexander, et alii.  1977.  A Pattern Language.  NY:  Oxford University Press.

  • Towns (eg, #3, City Country Fingers)
  • Buildings (eg, #112, Entrance Transition)
  • Construction (eg, #243, Sitting Wall)