University As A Marketplace

From Alexander Patterns

(Also see Alexander's book The Oregon Experiment.)


*... the Network Of Learning has established the importance of a whole society devoted to the learning process with decentralized opportunities for learning. The network of learning can be greatly helped by building a university, which treats the learning process as a normal part of adult life, for all the people in society.

Concentrated, cloistered universities, with closed adminission policies and rigid procedures which dictate who may teach a course, kill opportunities for learning...

The image which most clearly describes this kind of setting (recreating the "original universities of the middle ages") is the image of the traditional marketplace, where hundreds of tiny stalls, each one developing some specialty and unique flavor which can attract people by its genuine quality, are so arranged that a potential buyer can circulate freely, and examine the wares before he buys.

What would it mean to fashion the university after this model? (1) Anyone can take a course; (2) anyone can give a course.

Finally, how should a university marketplace be administered? We don't know... There are several experiments going forward in higher education... the Open University of England, Helio Trope in San Francisco (from the 1970s), University Without Walls branches, university extension programs, etc.

Therefore: Establish the university as a marketplace of higher education. As a social conception this means that the university is open to people of all ages (Lifelong Learning), on a Full Time, Part-Time, or course by course basis. Anyone can offer a class. Anyone can take a class. Physically, the university marketplace has a central crossroads where its main buildings and offices are, and the meeting rooms and labs ripple out from this crossroads - at first concentrated in small buildings along pedestrian streets and then gradually becoming more dispersed and mixed with the town.

Give the university a Promen Ade at its central crossroads; and around the crossroads cluster the buildings along streets - Building Complex, Pedestrian Street. Give this central area access to quite greens - QuietBacks; and a normal distribution of housing - Housing In Between; as for the classes, wherever possible let them follow the model of Master And Apprentices.*

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