Architecture provides many opportunities to inspire pattern design, such as form, function, building material, construction methods, and interior design. Drawing from my background in architecture, I have analyzed these elements and more to invent a unique, universal system of pattern development that translates any single architectural structure into a pattern. This step-by-step system is applicable to any architectural style or building type, both ancient and contemporary. The system begins with objective directions and allows for individual interpretation in the final stages.
The pyramid of El Castillo at Chichen Itza in Yucatán, México and the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles are analyzed using this new system of pattern development. The resulting patterns are informed by and reflect the structure’s original purpose, architectural characteristics, construction methods, and symbolism. The contrasting features of these two examples prove that this system of pattern development effectively produces compelling patterns from any type of structure.
System of pattern development based on architectural analysis
To create the unit:
- Find the plan drawing of the structure. Redraw the plan only showing the outline and changes in elevation.
- Final all four elevation drawings of the structure. Redraw all four elevations only showing the outline and changes in depth. Make sure the new elevation drawings are at the same scale as the plan.
- Place the new plan drawing in the center with all four new elevation drawings radiating out from the plan. Rotate the elevations at 90 degree angles so the base is touching the corresponding side of the plan drawing. Make sure the elevations are flipped the correct way so the north corner of the plan matches the north corners of the elevations and so on. It should look like the elevations are being “unfolded” from the plan. All drawings should be at the same scale.
- Choose one thing about the structure that makes it unique and incorporate this into the unit. The lines of the existing design may be modified.
After the unit is established:
- Determine how the building was constructed and how the exterior building materials align with one another. If the building is made from a glass curtain wall, like a downtown skyscraper, then the final pattern will have a straight repeat. If the building was constructed using bricks or stones in a brick arrangement, then the final pattern will have a brick repeat. If the building uses 3D modeling software to create random curving forms, then the final pattern will have no structure.
- Determine the original purpose of the building. Encapsulate this purpose into a single symbol or motif and use this to connect each of the units or fill the space between units. Minor modifications to the existing design may be made.
- Determine the exterior building material. If the material is non-reflective, the final pattern will be rendered in a solid medium. If the material is glass or reflective, the final pattern will be rendered in a transparent medium, such as watercolor.
- Determine if there is a predominant color story in the structure, either exterior or interior. If there is, then use this color story as the primary colors in the final pattern. If there is not, then you may choose your own color story for the final pattern.
- Determine how many levels the structure has. The basement does not count. This is how many different colors will be used in the final pattern. If the structure has only one level, then the final pattern will consist of one color in four different shades or tints.
To make coordinate patterns:
- Make at least two different coordinates for the pattern. Choose from stripes, checks, plaid, grid, or dots. A simple motif or shape may also be used. If the main pattern was rendered in watercolor, one of the coordinates must be a watercolor wash.
Click [here] to open the research presentation in a new tab
Walt Disney Concert Hall, Los Angeles, California; 2003; Architect: Frank Gehry
El Castillo, Chichen Itza, Yucatán, Mexico; 9th-12th century