Emergent Patterns


The idea of ’emergence’ is usually associated with birds flying in flocks or insects swarming; a larger pattern emerges as the summation of otherwise unrelated, smaller patterns acting in unison. Emergent behavior is the best kind of unintended consequence, but is by nature impossible to predict. I try to find examples of emergent patterns to emulate in the built environment.

The shingles on my friend Richard’s house are a simple, elegant example: A wonderfully textured visual pattern is the fallout from a sequence of practical decisions played out with earnestness and conviction. The same pattern would most likely not have resulted if the intention were to create a beautiful pattern of shingles, nor would it have functioned as well.