So What’s a Zen View?

So what’s a Zen View anyway?  Sounds kind of spiritual, doesn’t it?  The experience can certainly be spiritual if you’re open to it, but unlike a lot about spirituality, the magic of the Zen View can be easily understood.

I first heard the term when I was in school studying Landscape Design.  It comes from a book entitled A Pattern Language which is Volume 2 of a work by Christopher Alexander, Sara Ishikawa and Murray Silverstein, et al, and served as our text.  It was published in 1977 and it’s as close to a key to understanding what makes effective architecture, city planning, landscape design or even interior design work, and why, as I’ve ever seen.  Conversely, it can explain why a design doesn’t work.  It’s also everything a student dreads in a textbook – 1,171 pages with relatively small print, NO color photographs, and no index!

The structure of the book takes a bit of getting used to but I find it to be a valuable reality check against which I can bounce an idea.  Some of the patterns discussed are:  Six-Foot Balcony, Connection To The Earth, Intimacy Gradient, Private Terrace on The Street, and Zen View.    I may write about some other patterns in the future, but for now I’ll just explain the Zen View and why it’s the name of my blog.

Have you ever been in a plane, above the clouds, and all of a sudden, the sky is clear and before you lay the most spectacular vision of mountains, or a serpentine river – a breathtaking view.  Then as quickly as they parted, the clouds fill your sight again and it’s gone.

Or on a hike, climbing in a heavily wooded area, suddenly the view opens up and there’s an unexpected waterfall before you.  Then the trees thicken again and it’s over.

It can happen in a home, on a deck, down a garden path, on a highway.

Anywhere the view is fleeting, allowing you to only catch a quick glimpse.  If a longer look (or photograph) is desired, a special effort has to be made for that to happen.

According to A Pattern Language, “If there is a beautiful view, don’t spoil it by building huge windows that gape incessantly at it.  Instead, put the windows which look onto the view at places of transition – along paths, in hallways, in entry ways, on stairs, between rooms.”

This concept can be used to create mystery and drama in the garden.  Don’t expose everything at once; allow for a peek, a glimpse, a tease – a reason to want to proceed down that path.

And so it is with my blog.   These posts are my stories, musings, observations, Eureka moments, or sometimes just images of beauty I feel compelled to share; they’re meant to capture your attention briefly, a passing glance at an idea, not much more.   I’m writing it because I need to write; if you find something of value to take away, I’m delighted!

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4 Responses to So What’s a Zen View?

  1. Tracy says:

    Wonderful, Laura! I’m glad you have found your path. I’m excited to see what unfolds for you around the bend. :)

  2. Hi Laura,
    Congrat’s on the birth of your blog! I’m looking forward to catching glimpses as you proceed down your path;-)

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