The following pattern is a guide to what you might cover during your design.
Either follow this through as described, or use it as a basis for your own ideas.
Describe your site
- Explain the context of your design, where it is located, size of site etc.
- Show your base map and any overlays showing zones, sectors, desire lines etc.
- Does the site have any significant slope?
- How do microclimates vary across the site?
- What is the soil like? Does it vary in content, depth, pH etc. across the site?
- What flora and fauna is present on the site?
- What about structures, tools and events?
Continue reading Permaculture Design Process – 10. Design presentation
The ideal that we always aim towards in permaculture is the concept of ‘harvesting as maintenance’. In reality, if we utilise low-maintenance systems to create a design that
requires less energy over time to maintain, while providing increasing yields, we’ve
done pretty well.
So now you have created your map, you need to provide your client with an implementation plan. There are several factors that can affect the recommendations you make, including costs, so lets look at them one at a time. Continue reading Permaculture Design Process – 8. Implementation & costing
This is the stage where we finally put all our ideas down on paper for then client. No design is ever going to be perfect, so don’t be afraid to make some decisions – you’ll always learn from them later, even if they don’t work out as well as you’d hoped.
Continue reading Permaculture Design Process – 7. Design drawing
Now we’ll get down to experimenting with where the different elements & systems
in your design might be best placed. If you already have a fixed point of focus on
the site (such as a house), then you’ll be aiming to place everything most efficiently
in relation to that. Most designs you do will have to work around this constraint. Continue reading Permaculture Design Process – 6. Placement & integration
So having identified the key functions that we are going to design for, we are now
going to think about the best ways to fulfil them. Ideally, we only include
something (a system or element) in our design if it fulfils at least three functions.
Remember the ecological principle: Multiple functions for each element. Nature
happens to be so productive, because everything performs many functions.
Taking each of your chosen functions in turn, write down all the ways you can
think of to (realistically) achieve them. Obviously disregard anything that is clearly
way beyond budget, or an inappropriate scale (too big or small) for the purpose.
When you are done you should have three or four lists, one for each function.
You will probably find that some of the things you thought of are on several of
your lists. Go through them again and see which other of the systems and elements
you thought of also perform any of the other functions. This identifies some
strong possibilities, though you will still have to make sure that they are suited to
the site conditions and other client requirements (do they fit in with the client’s
values?) before deciding upon including them in your design.
Continue reading Permaculture Design Process – 5. Choosing systems & elements
This is the stage where we identify what will be the focus of the design. We take what we have learned from the client interview(s) & determine what key functions are required (there may be many, but some will be more a priority than others).
When we visit somewhere new, we often start redesigning that space in our heads, based upon things we have seen in other places, things that we would prefer if it were ours. This redesign usually takes the form of the imaginary placement of objects, be they plants, animals, tools etc. While aspects of this initial assessment may turn out to be good, each new space has its own unique set of circumstances & is best approached as such. Bill Mollison has a saying; ‘Vujà dé’ – the feeling that you have never been in this situation before – & that is the best way to approach each new design.
This is the part where we identify why we are redesigning the site. The following process we would ideally go through with each client (everyone involved ought to be interviewed to some degree). Sometimes, your clients will include both adults and children, though one or two may guide the process more than the others. From time to time, you will also need to take into consideration the needs of animals (even if you cannot question them directly!).
Often, the clients involved will include your self. In this case it can be helpful to get someone else to ask you these questions and make notes for you.
If you can, impose no time limit on these questions. Often the most important answers will be the ones you receive first, however given enough uninterrupted time to ponder, some real gems can emerge much later too.
Continue reading Permaculture Design Process – 3. The Client Interview
If you are lucky, you will have obtained a good map from your client, on which you can base your own. Maps are made for many different reasons though, and it is unlikely that even if you have, you will be holding the perfect map for you in your hand just yet. However, even a basic outline of a site is good starting point that will save you a certain amount of surveying work.
I’ll assume though that you were not so fortunate, and that you have had to create a base map from scratch. Hopefully you will have sketched out a simple map, something like the one shown here, while doing your survey. This example however, shows only basic measurements and angles; I recorded additional information onto overlays for clarity.
So first of all we need to determine the scale of our map. This we decide by identifying the longest dimension of the site and the size of the paper we are intending to use for our drawing. In this example, the approximate site dimensions were 25 metres by 12 metres. As the longest dimension was significantly longer than the shorter one, I used this to guide my choice of scale.
Continue reading Permaculture Design Process – 2. Creating a base map
This is the first article of a comprehensive series on permaculture design by Aranya. Enjoy!
1. The site survey Introduction
We are going to start our process by first surveying the area to be designed. You might not always be designing areas of land (permaculture is much more flexible than just this), but we’ll start you off by doing so, as this is the easiest way to get a sense of how the process works. Personally, I always like to have a look at a site before interviewing the client(s) as it gives me an unbiased view of what is there. The survey also often raises questions that need further clarification, such as issues around the history of use of the site; so doing it this way around makes most sense for me. However, this is not a hard and fast rule, and you’ll have to ask the client(s) in advance about the site boundaries anyway.
Continue reading Permaculture Design Process – 1. The site survey