No building ever feels right to the people in it unless the physical spaces (defined by columns, walls, and ceilings) are congruent with the social spaces (defined by activities and human groups).


A first principle of construction: on no account allow the engineering to dictate the building’s form. Place the load bearing elements—the columns and the walls and floors—according to the social space of the building; never modify the social spaces to conform to the engineering structure of the building.

… if you have used the, earlier patterns in the language, your plans are based on subtle arrangements of social spaces. But the beauty and subtlety of all these social spaces will be destroyed, when you start building, unless you find a way of building which is able to follow the social spaces without distorting or rearranging them for engineering reasons.

This pattern gives you the beginning of such a way of building. It is the first of the 49 patterns which deal specifically with structure and construction; it is the bottleneck through which all languages pass from the larger patterns for rooms and building layout to the smaller ones which specify the process of construction. It not only has its own intrinsic arguments about the relation between social spaces and load-bearing structure - it also contains, at the end, a list of all the connections which you need for patterns on structure, columns, walls, floors, roofs, and all the details of construction.

You will be able to guarantee that structure follows social spaces by placing columns at the corner of every social space - Columns at the Corners (212); and by building a distinct and separate vault over each room and social space - Floor-Ceiling Vaults (219).

For the principles of structure which will make it possible to build your building according to this pattern, begin with Efficient Structure (206); for the class of compatible materials, see Good Materials (207); for the fundamentals of the process of construction, see Gradual Stiffening (208)