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Pattern: Ambiguous boundaries

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Part of a 5-fold Pattern Language.
Subsequently published in Encyclopedia of World Problems and Human Potential (1986)

Pattern template

There are situations in which the boundaries between spaces are too absolute, but the absence of any boundary would do an injustice to the subtlety of the division between them. Ambiguous boundaries may than be established which both distinguish and bind together.

Physical In many places, walls and fences between outdoor spaces are too high, even though some separating boundary is required. In such situations, very low walls may be built so that when sat upon in various ways, or stepped over, the connection between the spaces is emphasized.

Social In the relationships between groups there are situations in which the boundary between them should be highly permeable, such that participants feel free to shift between actions within one group to those in another, or that there should be an acceptable ambiguity as to which group they are acting for at any one time.

Conceptual In the relationship between conceptual frameworks, there are situations in which it is advantageous to be able to shift easily between conceptualization in terms of one to that in terms of the other, accepting a certain ambiguity as to which is appropriate at any one time.

Psychic In the relationship between different modes of awareness there are situations in which it is advantageous for the person to be able to shift freely between distinct modes such that there is some ambiguity as to which is valid in a given set of circumstances.

Broader Inter-level zone; Intermediate position; Attractive temporary positions; Access to contained irrationality; Protected low intensity relationships; Hospitability of communication pathways; Contexts of self-organizing non-linearity; Informal local perspective interface zones; Ensuring function of common domain interfaces; Hierachy of perspectives favouring the broadest; Enfolded overview domains of minimum proportions; Off-centering the focal point of a common domain; Maintaining distinctions between contextual levels; Hospitable non-linear domain external to structures; Linear relationships enhanced by non-linear processes; Appropriate relationship of non-linearity to structures; Arrangement of structures ot engender fruitful interfaces; Exposure of structural activities to communication pathway; Blended integration of formal structure and informal context; Competitive interaction opportunities transposed to a concrete level; Relative isolation of structural interface with communication pathway; Functional enhancement of domains separating complementary structures; Overview domains at interfaces of the structure with the external environment; Contexts for exploratory relationship formation challenging emerging perspectives.

Narrower Time binding; Symbols of integration; Protecting variability to enhance fixity.

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