Tag Archives: Esthetics and Design

Esthetics & Design: Symmetry

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esthetics - symmetryHand-out in workshop on Esthetics & Design in Permaculture.

Patterns in Nature: Symmetry 

Bilateral animals, including humans, are more or less symmetric with respect to the sagittal plane which divides the body into left and right halves. Plants and sessile (attached) animals such as sea anemones often have radial or rotational symmetry. Fivefold symmetry is found in the echinoderms, the group that includes starfish, sea urchins, and sea lilies. People observe the symmetrical nature, often including asymmetrical balance, of social interactions in a variety of contexts. These include assessments of reciprocity, empathy, apology, dialog, respect, justice, and revenge.

Esthetics & Design: Fractals

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esthetics - fractalsHand-out for a workshop on Esthetics & Design in Permaculture.

Patterns in Nature: self-similarity & scale 

  • Exact self-similarity: identical at all scales; e.g. Koch snowflake
  • Quasi self-similarity: approximates the same pattern at different scales; may contain small copies of the entire fractal in distorted and degenerate forms
  • Statistical self-similarity: repeats a pattern stochastically so numerical or statistical measures are preserved across scales
  • Qualitative self-similarity: as in a time series

Multifractal scaling: characterized by more than one fractal dimension or scaling rule.

Esthetics & Design: Sheet Mulching

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Sheet Mulching

Hand-out for a workshop on sheet mulching. emphasis on esthetic qualities of the shape of beds/pathways/stepping stones and the different textures of the finishing top layer.

An often encountered criticism of permaculture design in public space is that it looks “messy”. And frankly: it often does. Going overboard on pragmatism can lead to a neglect of the sense of beauty – which is perhaps more important to acceptance and behavioral change then the usefulness of design.

Mulching has the potential to draw a collection of disparate elements together. Much like a neutral backdrop in a museum. It should not just cover and protect the soil but also be pleasing and restful to the eye, bringing feature plants to the foreground.

How does that work? One tool is to provide a contract of scale. By creating a top layer of very fine detail you emphasise the shapes and colours of the plants, their leaves, flowers and fruits. Another instrument is a homogenous colour and texture to contrast with the plants in colours and shapes.

Use a chipper or shredder to cut the mulch material into a fine and homogenous material. Using different source materials, like straw, tree bark, hemp fibers or coco shells, you can create a pallet of different colours and textures. Lay out different materials in gently undulating swirls and patches.

Part of a series of workshops on Esthetics & Design in Permaculture